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Maine Passes ‘Clean Elections’ Disclosure Initiative

Maine passed a "Clean Elections" ballot initiative Tuesday (Nov. 3) that requires "communications that are independent expenditures to include a conspicuous statement listing the top 3 funders of the entity making the independent expenditure."

While that sounds like it could have an impact on TV station ad sponsorship disclosures to the FCC, an attorney representing finance reform interests says that's not the case.

He said there were already states with enhanced disclosure for state elections. "Unlike FCC requirements, the broadcasters aren't responsible for enforcing the requirements," he said. Additionally, "in the states, the obligation is on the candidate, not the broadcaster, and if there is a violation, the state commission goes after the candidate."  

He said the law has no effect on what stations have to put in their FCC files. Finance reformers are trying to get the FCC to boost its TV station political ad disclosure rules, which they argue would simply be using the authority it already has to require TV stations to identify the actual funders of PAC ads rather than the "Americans for America" sorts of disclaimers.

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.