Tom Butts /
05.24.2012 10:16 AM
Broadcasters File Suit Against FCC’s Political File Rules
NAB asked the court to vacate the rule on the grounds that it is “arbitrary, capricious, and in excess of the Commission’s statutory authority.
WASHINGTON--Less than a month after the FCC ordered broadcasters to post political ad rates online, the National Association of Broadcasters has filed a lawsuit against the commission, opposing the new rule.
In its filing with the U.S. Federal Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia, the NAB asked the court to vacate the rule on the grounds that it is “arbitrary, capricious, and in excess of the Commission’s statutory authority, inconsistent with the First Amendment and otherwise not in accordance with law.”
The new rule, approved late last month, will require broadcasters to post rate card information for political ads. Stations will have six months to comply once the rules take effect. All stations will have to comply by July 1, 2014, but for the first two years, only stations affiliated with ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox in the top 50 markets will have to post their ad rates online. Those stations will have to comply within 30 days after the rule takes effect.  
Broadcasters have been opposed to the rule from the start, saying such a requirement to post political ad rates online places an undue burden on stations, particularly because airtime requests, quotes and sales rapidly change in the days leading up to elections . It also said posting such rates could lead to “market distortion.” Broadcasters are only required to post new information made available once the rules take effect.
“The Commission decided to adopt a requirement that all television broadcasters (but not their competitors in the video marketplace), publish political advertising-related information, including advertising rates the stations charge to political candidates and political ‘issue advertisers’ on a government website,” the NAB said in its filing. “The Commission’s changes to broadcasters’ disclosure obligations and other operations, as well as other action taken in the FCC order, will directly and adversely impact NAB and the broadcasters whose interests it represents.”
Free Press criticized the move as “an attempt by the NAB to stall an important and overdue transparency initiative.”
“The FCC decision to put the political files online will bring broadcasters into the 21st century, and will make already public information more easily accessible to everyone,” said Free Press Senior Policy Counsel Corie Wright. “The FCC made the right decision and is on firm legal ground.”

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Posted by: Anonymous
Thu, 05-24-2012 01:04 PM Report Comment
This new rule is another attempt by the Obama administration to reign in our freedoms and give the government more control of what is put on air. What is next, a one party system. Look out people, it may be only one election away. Use your mind, Think!
Posted by: Anonymous
Thu, 05-24-2012 01:38 PM Report Comment
What this really is, is part of a new FCC philosophy to 'regulate broadcasters to death', an idea floated by an FCC consultant back when this broadband insanity started. Although the FCC later said this was not what they intended, it appears they are going forth with it. In any case, placing this information online will require someone to spend the time to do it, and may in some cases require a new position to handle the task (this kind of thing is why the government can claim that 'regulation creates jobs' ;-) ). By placing it on an FCC website, it becomes a case of the 'fox guarding the henhouse'. If your posting is not timely, or is not in accordance with the FCC's (undoubtedly arbitrary and capacious) standards, there will be an instant fine. And it won't stop with the political file. Issues-programs lists are next, and these will almost certainly force most broadcasters to hire additional staff to comply with the mandate. If this isn't a make-work requirement designed to simply cost broadcasters money, I don't know what is. This sort of heavy-handed regulation is not only happening at the FCC, but across all of government. It is time we get our elected officials to rein in the regulatory agencies!

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