Campaign Finance Groups Renew Complaint Against WJLA

The Campaign Legal Center,  Common Cause and the Sunlight Foundation have filed another complaint against WJLA-TV Washington alleging that it “refuses” to  disclose the true identity of political advertising—it was one of two stations cited in an earlier complaint filed by the groups but dismissed by the FCC.

The groups say that given that Election Day is only a couple of weeks away, it wants the FCC to move quickly on its complaint, which involves ads from the NextGen Climate Action Committee.

In dismissing the earlier complaint without prejudice (meaning it could be refilled), the FCC said the groups had not shown that WJLA knew the “true” sponsor of the ads, but suggested the decision might have been different if they had. "Our approach might have been different if the complainants had approached the stations directly to furnish them with evidence calling into question that the identified sponsors were the true sponsors," the suggestion being that if the broadcasters had not taken action after being informed of inadequate disclosures, the bureau might have looked at the complaint differently.

This time around, the groups say that  WJLA’s filed opposition to the original complaint, which it says contained evidence of the true sponsor, meant the station now had evidence of the true sponsor and still aired an Oct. 19 ad flight from the group without identifying the funder of the ads.

A spokesperson for WJLA owner Sinclair had not returned a request for comment at press time.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.