Court Rejects NAB Bid to Delay Posting Political Advertising Data Online

Doug Halonen
The Wrap
Court Rejects NAB Bid to Delay Posting Political Advertising Data Online

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia on Friday rejected a National Association of Broadcasters request to stay new rules requiring local TV stations to put information about political advertising online.

The regulations, adopted by the FCC April 27, now go into effect next Thursday, Aug. 2.

Under the FCC's new rules, TV stations affiliated with the four top TV networks in the nation's 50 largest markets will first be required to file political information online. All other TV stations are exempt from the new requirement until July 1, 2014 to give the FCC the opportunity to determine how the changes work.

The FCC rules require broadcasters to disclose the key details about political advertising buys by or for candidates for public office, including how much a station charged for the ads and when the spots ran.

Also read: House Panel Moves to Nullify FCC's Political Ad Disclosure Rules

Though FCC rules already require broadcasters to document their political ad sales in publicly accessible files at their stations, interested parties have to visit stations in person to get the data. Under the new requirement, the data would be accessible at the click of a mouse.

NAB executives have blasted the regulations for only requiring broadcaster -- not cable TV systems or other broadcast station competitor -- to disclose political rate information online.

"We are pleased, but not surprised, that the court cleared the way for the online public file rules to take effect on August 2, " said Corie Wright, senior policy counsel for the consumer- watchdog-group Free Press, in a statement.  "The court rightly rejected the NAB's latest feeble attempt to curb public access to station political files. The NAB's case for delay was incredibly weak, as today's decision confirmed."

"This first round victory goes to transparency and the public, and we'll continue to advocate for better access to this already public information."

The FCC had no comment, according to an agency spokesman.

But when the NAB announced that it was challenging the rules in the appellate court in May, an FCC spokesman said the rules were "a common sense update by the FCC to move from paper to online access public information in the digital age."

 

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