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Media Bureau denies NAB’s TV public file rule stay petition

On July 12, the Federal Communications Commission Media Bureau denied a petition filed by NAB seeking a stay of a Commission rule requiring TV stations to post their public inspection files, including political files, online in an agency database.

The broadcast industry trade group filed the petition seeking to delay implementation of the rule until completion of a review of the new rule by the judiciary. The rules require TV broadcasters to begin posting new documents added to their public inspection file in the online database beginning Aug.2.

The obligation of TV broadcasters under the new rule includes their political files. Initially, TV broadcasters affiliated with the top four broadcast networks in the top 50 markets must add new political file documents to the online database. Small broadcaster initially excluded from the requirement must begin filing political documents on July 1, 2014.

In seeking the stay, NAB focused on the political file requirements. It petitioned the commission to delay implementation of the new rule until the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals acts on its petition for review. The trade group argued in its petition that the requirement is arbitrary and capricious and inconsistent with the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002. NAB’s petition also contended that the new rule will place TV broadcasters at a disadvantage to other media competitors because it requires them to post to the public database the prices for specific ads.

The Media Bureau based its denial of NAB’s petition based on four criteria set up in other instances when a petitioner requested a stay of a rule pending judicial review. One of the criteria is that a petitioner must show “it will suffer irreparable harm if a stay is not granted.”

In rejecting the stay request, the Media Bureau said NAB failed to satisfy any of the criteria. “Critically, NAB has failed to demonstrate irreparable injury,” the agency said.