March 2, 2021

Center For Responsive Politics Releases New Tool for Tracking FCC Ad Data (Beta)

From a Center For Responsive Politics (CRP) Introduction:

[Last week] CRP is unveiling a new tool [“Ad Data”] that allows users to track political ad buys daily, as they are reported to the Federal Communications Commission.

CRP aims to provide a free, open and much more usable resource [vs. other resources], and this is our first step. Our database currently contains nearly 800,000 FCC filings going back to early August 2012. We have extracted text from PDFs for most of these filings and, in some cases will pull key text to track particular aspects of the data.

Sometimes these files disappear from the FCC’s web site. So we are also saving a backup copy of every filing that comes in to ensure that the record — and the content we’ve made machine-readable — remains, long after the buyer requests its removal or the station itself deletes it after the allotted two years.

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Users who visit the new page will see the most recent 100 political ad filings received that day, with links to download the documents themselves. The stations listed in those top 100 most recent filings each link to a summary page of the last 50 filings submitted by that station.

At the top of the page, a box allows users to search using zip code or a two-letter state abbreviation. Due to the sheer volume of filings we are downloading every day, the results are currently limited to the 10 most recent filings from that state, but below that, we show tallies of the number of filings from each station in the last 60 days. Users can click any station listed and see the 50 most recent filings from that station.

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In the coming weeks, we will be adding new search and download functionality — including options that allow users to search by federal and state congressional districts.

In the longer term, our goal is to create tools that allow users to view up-to-date, standardized data about politically active groups, to search the content of the filings for details like individuals or vendors involved with the groups, and to view FCC data linked to relevant FEC and IRS data — particularly where it will help fill in reporting gaps for dark money groups.

Read the Complete Introduction

Direct to Ad Data (Beta)

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.

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