Station Groups Drop Opposition to Online Public Files

Some major station groups have withdrawn their petition to the FCC to reconsider its decision to challenge the FCC online public filing requirement, according to an email from the broadcasters' attorney to the FCC.

The petition had been filed by most of a dozen groups including Cox, Barrington, Scripps, Gannett, Hearst, Media General and Raycom. It was originally more than a dozen because it included LIN and Belo, but they have since been subsumed into Gannett and Media General.

The move was mostly housecleaning since broadcaster opposition to the requirement had been fading for some time.

Broadcasters, led by the National Association of Broadcasters, initially pushed back on the mandate to put their station public files, including political files, into an FCC-administered database for all to see and search. Their arguments were mostly about the additional burden and the fact that cable and satellite had no similar mandate. But broadcasters eventually found the burden not quite as onerous as previously thought and pulled back, while pushing for parity among services.

In August 2014, NAB told the FCC that it was also fine with the commission extending its online political file mandate to all video services, including cable and satellite and even broadcast radio. The FCC voted to propose that expansion last December.

Last month, NAB dropped its court challenge to the online filing requirement, which was itself the second shoe to drop in broadcasters pivot toward acceptance (NAB had supported holding the challenge in abeyance back in 2013).

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.