NAB Asks Court to Wait on Political File Review

WASHINGTON – The National Association of Broadcasters has asked a federal court to hold off on its review of a rule requiring broadcasters to publish their ad rates online. The Federal Communications Commission last year enacted rules requiring TV stations to upload documents in their public inspection files to an online database. Those materials included documentation related to airtime purchased for political advertising, including rates. TV stations balked, the NAB petitioned the FCC and a federal appeals court for a review. The organization also ask the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and the FCC to stay the requirement, which both refused to do. The order went into effect Aug. 2, 2012, affecting 200 TV stations during the last year’s election cycle.

“The importance of taking stock of this recent experience is highlighted by the fact that the FCC itself anticipated a possible need to make changes once it saw the new requirement in action,” the NAB’s motion states. “Holding the case in abeyance will provide all parties with the time to fully consider the lessons of the recent election.”

An alternative proposal put forth by TV station groups that meets both their own and the FCC’s goals of transparency remains pending before the commission, the NAB’s motion states. The commission has “two distinct opportunities” to consider the alternative proposal in the near future, it says. One is a petition for reconsideration. The other is commitment by the agency to open a notice and comment period no later than July 1, 2013 on potential changes to the contested rule.

“In these circumstances,” the NAB’s motion states, “conserving judicial resources until it is clear that review is necessary would be appropriate.”