On Friday, April 4, following the U.S. Supreme Court’s McCutcheon decision, Brooke Gladstone conducted an enlightening interview with Michael J. Copps, former commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and currently special advisor to the Media and Democracy Reform Project at Common Cause. He is particularly upset that the FCC is not enforcing its old dictum that the people are entitled to know by whom they are being persuaded.
All of America, I think, is exhausted from these endless, mindless, anonymous political advertisements. And most of them are really anonymous. A front group, perhaps masquerading as Citizens for Purple Mountain Majesties and Amber Waves of Grain, might really be a chemical company dumping sludge into the East River. But you wouldn’t know that because they’re not required to tell you who is really sponsoring these ads. A solution is at hand if we can get the FCC to do something about it.
The FCC can act immediately to enforce the existing statute, written into Section 317 of the Communications Act, that requires disclosure of the “true identity” of the sponsors of political advertisements. The FCC has “a duty to inform people on who is really paying for the ads they hear on the radio and see on television. This has never been enforced, even though it’s been on the books” for almost 80 years.
Gladstone points out that the Media Access Project filed a petition with the FCC calling for the law’s disclosure requirements to be applied, but it has gone nowhere.
Copps concludes with a CALL TO ACTION: He calls on Americans to “raise their voices and let the Federal Communications Commission know, you have the power to actually enhance the political environment” by calling on the FCC to enforce Section 317 of the Communications Act. He encourages all of us to send letters to the FCC – to do it and do it now.
Send letters to:
Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street, SW
Washington, DC 20554
Contact the Commissioners via E-mail:
Chairman Tom Wheeler: Tom.Wheeler@fcc.gov
Commissioner Mignon Clyburn: Mignon.Clyburn@fcc.gov
Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel: Jessica.Rosenworcel@fcc.gov
Commissioner Ajit Pai: Ajit.Pai@fcc.gov
Commissioner Michael O’Rielly: Mike.O’Rielly@fcc.gov
To hear the entire interview go here.