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For the past few weeks I have been visiting television stations and cable providers and asking to view political ad buys made by mayoral candidates, and others. The law requires these ads be made available to the public. But, it appears that traveling to stations to view or make copies of the files will no longer be necessary. Today, the Federal Communications Commission approved a rule requiring broadcasters to post public files, including political data, online.

The vote came despite objections from television networks who said doing so would jeopardize business by showing the cost of ads and the times that the ads would run. The objections from broadcasters and their lobbyists were detailed in a series of articles published by nonprofit news organization ProPublica.

And while the actual requirements have not been released, the majority of commissioners showed they weren't succumbing to the political pressure from news outlets.

"Despite broad support, this proposal has been met with an evolving series of critiques from opponents," said FCC chair Julius Genachowski at today's hearing. "First we were told that the public file is already available, no need to change a thing, but when FCC staff went to Baltimore to experience what the public experiences when accessing this public information, they found it took 61 hours to retrieve public files from eight stations and copying costs of close to 1700 dollars.

"I call this common sense. It fulfills the core intent of the public file rules; to provide the public access to information. It not only enhances transparency and informs the public it also allows efficiency and cost-savings."

The vote passed with commissioners Genachowski and Mignon Clyburn voting in favor of the new requirement with Commissioner Robert McDowell opposed to the change. http://sandiegoreader.com/users/photo...

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