Broadcasters Political Files Now Available Online

FCC Town Hall Meeting in Iowa City October 5, 2005

In 2005 a grassroots group, Iowans For Better Local TV,  filed a Petition to Deny relicensure with the FCC against a local Sinclair Broadcasting-owned station, KGAN.  It was an enormous effort involving dozens of volunteers, countless hours of data collection,  community education,   lobbying community leaders and elected officials, letters to the editor, guest opinions in local newspapers, monitoring the station’s content, and that’s only the half of it.

The other half of it involved a dozen or so visits to KGAN where teams of volunteers physically reviewed the station’s public inspection file, document by document, and made copies of hundreds of pages of information with a rented copy machine that we brought along with us to each station visit.  KGAN would not let us in the room where the files were kept. We had to tell them basically what we wanted to see and they brought the files to a meeting room and assigned a staff to monitor our activities.

The point is, every citizen  has a right to see the station’s public inspection files.  But getting folks to go to a broadcast station to see the station’s public file is not an easy thing to do.  It’s actually a lot harder than getting them to knock on doors or make phone calls.

So now  in a huge victory for transparency, broadcasters are being required to make  their political files available online.

For more about this huge win for Democracy, go to

A complete list of what must be kept by the station can be found here:

And for more about IBLTV’s 2005 FCC filing, here are some links:

You can read IBLTV’s entire PTD here:  IBLTV/

Broadcasting & Cable did a story about our effort

Blog for Iowa




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3 Responses to Broadcasters Political Files Now Available Online

  1. Joel Bader says:

    Is there a deadline for all radio/television stations to meet? I couldn’t find anything pertaining to WHO radio in Des Moines. We have a right to know the truth about that so-called “news-radio” station.


  2. Trish Nelson says:

    Joel, stations renew licenses every 8 years. Since the last time was 2005, Iowa broadcast stations will be renewing in 2013 I believe, if that was your question.


  3. Trish Nelson says:

    Joel, you’re right, it appears Iowa stations are exempted from this rule as it applies only to certain markets. Free Press is asking us to visit our stations and submit results to start our own online data base. Here is a link to do that:

    “For the first time, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has ordered television stations to put their public and political files online. But this year, only stations affiliated with the major networks (NBC, ABC, FOX, CBS) in the top 50 markets will have to put their political files online — and only beginning August 2.

    This leaves out much of the spending that already has occurred this year and will cover only a fraction of the markets in swing states where the majority of political ad spending will occur. We need your help to unlock the rest of the political files and post the information online.”


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