NAB Sues FCC Over New Reporting Requirements

National Association of Broadcasters Concerned About Scale and Scope of New Rules

The National Association of Broadcasters filed suit against the Federal Communications Commission over its decision to require broadcasters to put their public-inspection files online and its creation of a standardized form that will require stations to provide the government with more specifics on programming in a range of areas -- for example, spelling out how much of their programming is independently produced.

The FCC said leaving programming lists entirely to the discretion of broadcasters “may result in a broadcaster’s failure to give a complete picture of how they are trying to fulfill their public-interest obligations,” although it added that it was imposing no new programming obligations.

The new disclosure requirements were adopted Dec. 18 as part of several votes to try to wrap up the FCC's media-ownership-rule review.

NAB spokesman Dennis Wharton said in a statement Friday that broadcasters had "no quarrel" with serving the public interest, but they were concerned about the scale and scope of the new rules and the burden they could put on stations, particularly smaller stations.

"We would submit that the impact of these regulations would negatively impact the ability of many broadcasters to continue to serve our communities," he said in announcing the suit, which was filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

The NAB said the FCC's decision was arbitrary and capricious -- a phrase the FCC is becoming quite familiar with due to the growing number of lawsuits against it. The trade group asked the court to set aside the ruling.

A couple of dozen broadcasters and media activists are already suing the FCC over its Dec. 18 decision to loosen the newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership rules.