NAB Seeks Stay of FCC Online Political File Rules

Says members will suffer irreparable harm if rules go into effect next month
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The National Association of Broadcasters has asked the FCC to stay enforcement of its online political file posting rules, which are scheduled to take effect the first week in August.

In a petition to the FCC Tuesday, NAB said the commission should wait for the D.C. federal appeals court to hear a broadcaster appeal. NAB argues that it is likely to win on the merits and that, if the rules go into effect broadcasters will suffer irreparable harm. Both of those are requirements for granting a stay.

The new rules require the top four network affiliated TV stations in the top 50 markets to send their political files, including the prices of political spots, to the FCC for posting in an online database.  The balance of TV stations must follow suit within two years.

Broadcasters say the decision was arbitrary and capricious--it does not apply to cable or satellite operators, both of whom must also keep political files and make them available to the public per FCC rules.

 They also say the FCC has disregarded the competitive harm that requiring them to publish detailed pricing information will cause broadcasters, a harm that NAB argues has no countervailing benefit that outweighs it.

Separately, a number of TV station groups have asked the FCC to reconsider its decision, offering an alternative plan under which broadcasters would volunteer aggregate prices, including for categories of ads not required to be publicized.

NAB also included testimony from station execs outlining the hardships and expense of complying with the new rules.

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