Sunlight Names President

Campaign finance reform group Sunlight Foundation, which has been pushing the FCC to require more detailed broadcast and cable political ad disclosures, has named Chris Gates as its new president.

Gates has been the executive director of Philanthropy For Active Civic Engagement and before that was president of the National Civic League.

Group co-founder and executive director Ellen Miller is retiring.

Sunlight has teamed with Common Cause and Campaign Legal Center to require cable and satellite operators to make their political files part of a national searchable database, as is the requirement for all TV stations since July 1.

Sunlight has been monitoring that online database to track where ads are being placed and how their funders are being disclosed.

They also called on the FCC last week to review a staff-level decision rejecting their complaint against WJLA-TV Washington and KGW(TV) Portland, Ore. Sunlight and company had argued that the stations had failed to "fully and fairly disclose" the true identity of the sponsors of certain political ads. But in a letter to the groups' lawyers dated Sept. 3, Robert Baker, assistant chief of the Media Bureau's policy division, said that they had not made a "sufficient showing that the stations had credible evidence casting into doubt that the identified sponsors of the advertisement were the true sponsors."

The complaints are part of a larger effort to boost disclosure given the influx of so-called "dark money" ads from groups that may be getting funding from the corporations and unions that can directly fund electioneering ads in the run-up to federal elections thanks to the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision that bans on those contributions violated corporations' and unions' speech rights.

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.