Sunlight Launches Political Ad 'Weather Report'

YouTube Video Series HighlightS Ad Climate Drawn from TV Station Political Files

The Sunlight Foundation has ramped up its efforts to collect and report on TV station political ad info from the FCC's online database as well as FEC data on donations.

Sunlight has launched a weekly YouTube video series, the "Political Weather Report," which will spotlight markets with heavy advertising and so-called "dark money" spending in the final weeks of the election.

The first installment identifies Las Vegas, Denver, Tampa, Norfolk and Grand Rapids as the markets that this week experienced the "heaviest rainfall" of political spending.

It also points out that the info comes from its Political Ad Sleuth Web site, where it is collecting FCC data on TV station ad spending. It points out that it is the first election where that data is available online, but also points out that the FCC's decision to require online posting of TV station political files only applies to the top 50 markets -- and actually only the Big Four affiliates in each -- "leaving out dozens of markets in battle ground states," says Sunlight, which says thousands of ads aired there without having to be reported to the FCC.

The spot did double duty as a plug for the Ad Sleuth initiative to get boots on the ground in local markets to copy and upload political files from stations not subject to the FCC's new rule, which went into effect Aug. 2.

The commission does plan to require all stations to upload those files to an FCC database, but not for another two years and not until after the FCC reviews the initial top four stations in the 50 markets filing requirement.