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FCC Rules TV Stations Must Disclose Political Ad Buys Online

The changes are a welcome opportunity to discover how many secret organizations are spending their money to attempt to influence our country's elections.

The Federal Communications Commission ruled that local TV stations in the country's top 50 markets will have to start disclosing who purchases political ads online. From The Wrap:

Under the rules, TV stations affiliated with the four top TV networks in the nation's 50 largest markets will be required to file political information online first. All other TV stations will be exempt from the new requirements until July 1, 2014, to give the FCC the opportunity to see how the changes work...

Though FCC rules already require broadcasters to document their political ad sales in publicly accessible files at their stations, you have to visit a station in person to get the data.Under the new requirement, you can access in the information at the click of a mouse.

The changes are a welcome opportunity to discover how many secret organizations, including Super PACs, are spending their money to attempt to influence our country's elections. The ruling has pitted open government advocates against media companies, many of whom have lobbied against the rule change. For a much fuller conversation about this issue, visit Pro Publica's "Free the Files" series.

The Sunlight Foundation has a map that shows which markets will be affected. The NBC, ABC, CBS and Fox affiliates in each of these markets will be subject to the new rule. Based on their map, here are the TV stations in Texas that will now have to disclose the political information of who is buying commercials on their stations:

  1. Dallas/Fort Worth (5th largest market)
    1. WFAA (ABC)
    2. NBC-5
    3. CBS Dallas
    4. My Fox DFW
  2. Houston (10th largest market)
    1. KTRK (ABC)
    2. Click 2 Houston (NBC)
    3. KHOU (CBS)
    4. My Fox Houston
  3. San Antonio (36th largest market)
    1. KSAT (ABC)
    2. News 4 WOAI (NBC)
    3. KENS 5 (CBS)
    4. KABB Fox San Antonio
  4. Austin (47th largest market)
    1. KVUE (ABC)
    2. KXAN (NBC)
    3. KEYE (CBS)
    4. My Fox Austin