White House Orders Political Ad Info To Be Posted Online

New order requires information on political ads be posted online, closing major disclosure hole.


The White House issued an order Tuesday that will require information on political TV ads be posted online, closing a longtime disclosure loophole in political campaign spending, the Sunlight Foundation reports.

The order, which was released by the Office of Management and Budget, requires the four major broadcasting networks to provide information on political ads that run in the 50 largest television markets to the Federal Communications Commission, which first passed the rule, by Aug. 2.

[Vast Amounts of Political Advertising Goes Unreported]

Previously, basic information on television ads—how much they cost to run, who paid for them, and how often they ran—was very difficult to obtain, requiring a person to visit local television stations to obtain hard copies of the files. As a result, as much as two-thirds of all political advertising, a critical tool for influencing voter opinion, went unreported and anonymous to the public.

The new rule will create an online database on the FCC's website for information related to political ads. The National Association of Broadcasters is suing to block the order, saying the new requirements will be costly for local stations and will hurt their negotiating power by making advertising rates public.

The rule, if not blocked by suit, would only apply to the 50 largest television markets. To see a list of what markets would apply, click here.

Seth Cline is a reporter with U.S. News and World Report. Contact him at scline@usnews.com or follow him on Twitter.