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Technology / TECHNOLOGY

Broadcasters Look to Block Rule on Political-Ad Disclosure

photo of Adam  Mazmanian
July 10, 2012

The National Association of Broadcasters filed a motion in federal court on Tuesday to block the implementation of a Federal Communications Commission rule requiring broadcast television stations to post online information about their political advertising buys, including ad rates.

Absent a stay, the rule is set to take effect on Aug. 2.

Broadcast TV stations are required to keep paper copies of this information available for inspection by the public in their "political file."

 

In the motion for a stay, the NAB argues that their members "will suffer irreparable harm" by putting this information online, both because it would disclose information about ad rates to competitors, and because of the effort that would be required to keep the online file current.

The FCC maintains that the rule just updates required record keeping for the Internet age.

The online disclosure process came up in a Tuesday hearing of the Communications and Technology Subcommittee of the Energy and Commerce Committee. Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden, R-Ore., who has a background in radio broadcasting, noted in questioning FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski that information on the details of implementation of the new rule were hard to find on the FCC website and wondered what sort of contacts between campaigns and stations had to go in the online political files.

"Beginning Aug. 2, anything a broadcaster would otherwise have to put physically in its public file at the station, it will also have to put online," Genachowski explained.

The current motion follows a move last week by the NAB to appeal the decision within the FCC.

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