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Political Ad Sleuth

Frustrated by political ads inundating your TV? Learn how you can discover who is funding these ads from the public files at your local television station through this tutorial.

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New campaign finance rules mean that the airwaves this election year will be dominated by outside groups, many of which don’t have to disclose the sources of their funding.\rBut there is one place where they will leave a paper trail: At the TV stations where they buy airtime for their ads. 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 (ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC) 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. To sign up to become a Political Ad Sleuth or for more information about the project please visit:

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