NAB Backs Off Political File Challenge

Asks court to delay hearing its appeal until Feb. 15

After fighting hard against the FCC’s online political file
posting mandate, broadcasters have backed off their
court challenge, at least for now.

The National Association of Broadcasters last week
asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia
to delay hearing its appeal of the mandate from Oct. 4
to next Feb. 15. The suggestion is that experience gained
from this election cycle will help the NAB determine how,
and even if, to proceed. The NAB says the FCC and its
supporters are OK with pushing back the schedule.

Last April, the FCC voted to require the top four affiliates in the 50 largest TV markets to start uploading
their political files online; the regulation went into effect
Aug. 2. Both the FCC and the appeals court rejected
broadcaster requests for stays.

The FCC still has before it a petition for reconsideration
from broadcast groups. In asking the court to hold
off, the NAB points out that the FCC could act on that;
the commission has also said it would review the results
from the 200 station postings before it applies that
requirement to all other stations starting in 2014.

“Based on experience gained during the 2012 election
cycle, NAB may conclude that it is not necessary to proceed
with this case,” the association said in a statement.
And if, instead, the results reinforce the NAB’s argument
that posting individual spot prices puts it at a competitive
disadvantage, the FCC could still act on its petition
for reconsideration, which offered up an alternative
where stations would provide aggregate prices.