Big Four Take Aim at Political File Disclosure Proposal
Argued that stations should not have to put "sensitive pricing information" about political ad rates on their Web sites
By John Eggerton -- Broadcasting & Cable, 2/9/2012 1:33:57 PM
According to an ex parte notification published on the FCC's Web site, they argued that stations should not have to put "sensitive pricing information" about political ad rates on their Web sites, as the FCC has proposed they might have to do, particularly since their competition -- cable, print, online -- have no such requirement.
"We noted the potential anticompetitive effect of making individual advertising rates information available online where competitors in the market and commercial advertisers may anonymously glean highly sensitive pricing data, which, by law, will represent the lowest rates charged by the station to its most favored commercial advertisers," the notice said of the meeting with top staffers and the chief of the FCC Media Bureau as well as with a top staffer for Commissioner Robert McDowell. "We noted the potential this has for distortion in the market for commercial advertising, to the ultimate detriment of local television stations and their viewers."
They pointed out that the FCC's prior decision -- back in 2007 under Republican Chairman Kevin Martin -- not to put the political file online was correct.
They also take issue with the FCC proposal to put sponsorship ID info online, saying it duplicates information already included in end credits of shows where necessary. "We take great care in the size of the font and the length of time a sponsorship identification is on the air to ensure that viewers are able to view this information easily," they said.
They also said the FCC should wait to decide whether to put information about joint operating agreements in the online public file until it has decided, in a separate proceeding, whether it is going to make those arrangements attributable toward local ownership caps.
The FCC has proposed creating an online database of TV station public inspection files to make it easier for the public to inspect them.
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