Skip to main content

NAB Seeks Emergency Stay of Online Political File Rules

The National Association of Broadcasters Tuesday asked the
U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to block the FCC's implementation
of its online political file rules, the latest in a series of broadcaster moves
to try and stop the FCC from posting individual TV station political spot
prices online when cable and satellite competitors have no similar online
reporting requirement.

Scheduled to take effect Aug. 2, the rules require the top
four network affiliated stations in the top 50 markets to start sending any
information they must keep in their station paper political files, including
spot prices, to the FCC for posting in a national, online database. The FCC
will do a year-in check of the process then plans to apply the requirement to
all TV stations a year after that.

In its petition, NAB, which has already asked the same court
to overturn the rules and the FCC to stay enforcement of them, said the
emergency stay was warranted because it is likely to win its court challenge on
the merits and that it is likely to suffer competitive harms if there is no
stay -- essentially the same arguments it made to the FCC in calling for it to
postpone enforcement until the court weighs in.

"NAB's members will suffer irreparable harm absent a
stay because the order compels television stations to post the prices for
specific advertisements to a public website immediately after the sales
occur," NAB said in its filing. "This will place NAB's members at a
distinct disadvantage to their non-broadcast competitors, who will not be
required to post rate information on the Internet," NAB said.

But wait, there's more: "The balance of hardships and
the public interest also favor a stay because the likely harm from requiring
immediate posting of detailed price information about specific advertising
sales outweighs the benefits of such a requirement," said NAB.

Separately, TV station groups have asked the FCC to
reconsider its April decision, offering an alternative where they would supply
the FCC with aggregate, rather than individual prices, and expand reporting to
categories of political spots not currently required to be reported.