Americans will soon be able to look up how much TV stations are paid by political advertisers on a website run by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). And to make the new site more intuitive for people to navigate, it will look a little like Facebook, Greg Elin, the commission's chief data officer, told Government Technology.
Each TV station will have its own profile page and activity feed showing what data the station last uploaded, Government Technology reported after attending a public demonstration of the digital database yesterday (July 17). "We're keeping a log file of different transactions, much in the same way if you post an image to your Facebook," Elin told the government news website.
By law, the U.S.' top 200 TV stations will have to have submitted their political data to the online database by August 2. Stations will have to say who paid for political ads, important people in groups buying ads, times the ads are aired and ad purchase requests the stations turned down. Such data is already publicly available, but people have to visit a TV station to see it.
Other information the public will be able to see on the FCC's new social network for TV stations include applications filed with the commission and agreements with citizens. People will be able to send messages to stations.
On the broadcasters' side, TV station staff will be able to upload the legally required data by dragging and dropping files. They can use Dropbox for large files. The commission is working to add support for two other file-sharing systems, Box and Microsoft Drive.
The National Association of Broadcasters opposes the upcoming database, arguing that publishing ad prices exposes networks at competitive harm. The association filed an emergency motion with the U.S. Federal Court of Appeals earlier this month.