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@NCCapitol

Watchdogs say 2 NC stations failed to follow political ad rules

Posted May 1, 2014

WRAL Investigates The Money Trail

— Two national watchdog groups say 11 broadcasters, including two in North Carolina, have failed to disclose legally required information about the political ads that air on their channels.

The Sunlight Foundation and the Campaign Legal Center, two Washington-based nonprofits, filed complaints with the Federal Communications Commission on Thursday morning against WTVD in the Triangle, WCNC in Charlotte and nine other stations across the country. The complaints allege the stations failed to identify information such as the sponsors or subjects of the ads, which should be included on the forms submitted to the FCC.

Stations named

  • WDIV (NBC) Detroit
  • KNXV (ABC) Phoenix
  • WTVJ (NBC) Miami
  • WMUR (ABC) Manchester/Boston
  • WFLA (NBC) Tampa
  • WTVT (FOX) Tampa
  • WWJ (CBS) Detroit
  • KMGH (ABC) Denver
  • WCNC (NBC) Charlotte
  • KMSP (FOX) Minneapolis
  • WTVD (ABC) Durham

"We feel that people deserve to know the identities of groups who are trying to influence votes – and their agendas," Sunlight Foundation Managing Editor Kathy Kiely said. "The only way these groups have to leave a paper trail is at the TV stations."

The complaints urge the FCC to ensure the information is corrected and that the agency remind broadcasters of the disclosure requirements.

"In too many cases, the stations and their advertisers failed to comply with the simplest and most basic disclosure requirements," Meredith McGehee, policy director of the Campaign Legal Center, said in a statement. "As a result, the public does not have the information it needs to understand who is speaking on the public airwaves and attempting to influence their views on political issues."

WTVD and WCNC did not return emails or calls seeking comment on the complaints.

FCC rules require stations in the country's top-50 television markets – which include central North Carolina, the Triad and the Charlotte area – to provide certain information in online files posted on the FCC website.

On July 1, the FCC will begin requiring stations in smaller markets to follow suit.

Money How money flows into elections

The filings are one of the few ways voters can track the flow of so-called "dark money" during political campaigns.

Since the beginning of the year, more than 12,000 television ads related to the North Carolina’s U.S. Senate and Congressional campaigns have aired on broadcast television stations by candidates as well as independent groups, according to data provided to WRAL News by Kantar Media.

Kantar estimates those ads cost at least $5.1 million to air.

In the complaints, dated May 1, the groups say Durham ABC affiliate WTVD failed to provide information about the names of candidates and issues featured in an ad from American Crossroads. The ad criticizes Sen. Kay Hagan's stances on the Affordable Care Act and the state's recently passed voter ID law, and it urges viewers to vote for Republican U.S. Senate candidate Thom Tillis.

A separate complaint alleges Charlotte NBC affiliate WCNC failed to provide information about the issues featured in an ad by the Patriot Majority attacking Tillis over his stance on health care reform.

Both political ads also ran on WRAL-TV.

WRAL-TV was not named in the complaints.

22 Comments

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  • Paul Maxwell May 1, 2014

    View quoted thread


    Thank you.

  • Andrew Stephenson May 1, 2014

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    Apparently, it's the opposite:

    "In the complaints, dated May 1, the groups say Durham ABC affiliate WTVD failed to provide information about the names of candidates and issues featured in an ad from American Crossroads. The ad criticizes Sen. Kay Hagan's stances on the Affordable Care Act and the state's recently passed voter ID law, and it urges viewers to vote for Republican U.S. Senate candidate Thom Tillis."

  • itsnotmeiswear May 1, 2014

    I'd rather they just require them to only tell the truth without grey matter. Too many people believe a TV ad like it was the gospel.

  • A person May 1, 2014

    Most likely groups with ties to the Democrat party

  • glarg May 1, 2014

    View quoted thread



    Who determines what are "lies"? The Government? Of course the government doesnt like to be criticized! Thats why the First Amendment has to exists- if the government approved of what you were saying then there would be no need to make it a Protected Right.

    All of these campaign speech restrictions are thinly veiled attempts to take away citizens right to criticize the government.

    Why does WTCD need to be fined because of an incomplete form? To make the cost of them carry political ads high, so they will think twice in the future.

  • rlsmith5 May 1, 2014

    WTVD is trying to be a little FOX News station. You can tell more from there reporting supporting the Governor and Republicans with articles than the political ads they broadcast. They appear to be very scared to put anything negative out about the Governor, Thom Tillis, or the rest of the right wing because they think it will hurt there relationship with them. SHOULD NOT HOLD BACK THE TRUTH

  • renaissancemon May 1, 2014

    Oh my goodness, so you are left to judge a commercial based on nothing but your own research into the verifiability of its actual claims, instead of being able to pre-judge it based on who paid for it? That is just awful.

  • Olenc Native May 1, 2014

    View quoted thread



    ahhhh, NEWS BURN!!!

    For real though, WRAL is the dominate force in Triangle news, and they also boast the best (liberal) commenters on their website. The conservative ones are mediocre at best.

  • miseem May 1, 2014

    View quoted thread



    Why would that be all I need to know?

  • chivegas May 1, 2014

    Me wonders if this would be a story if WRAL were on that list... :)

    I, for one, would be content if they just outlawed ALL political ads. Most of them (especially negative ones) are misleading and borderline libelous.

    However, I realize it's a significant source of revenue for media organizations, so I know they "ain't going nowhere".

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