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Court Rejects NAB’s Plea to Stay Online Public Files

NAB says challenge will continue, FCC to hold more demos

It appears TV stations will need to begin posting documents for their public files to an FCC-hosted web interface beginning Aug. 2.

Radio has been watching the issue closely because the FCC intends to eventually require AMs and FMs to also migrate from a paper to an online public file system.

With no explanation, a three-judge panel of a federal appeals court on Friday rejected NAB’s request for the new rules to be blocked pending judicial review.

“Petitioner has not satisfied the stringent requirements for a stay pending court review,” stated the judges in the one-page order from the court.

NAB was disappointed. EVP Dennis Wharton stated: “Even though the stay request was rejected, NAB’s court challenge to this new rule will continue and be debated on the merits in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. We continue to believe it is fundamentally unfair for local TV stations to be the only medium required to disclose on the Internet sensitive advertising rate information.”

The broadcast trade group had asked the court to block the new rules.

NAB also asked the commission itself to block the new rules. The agency denied that request, saying NAB was not likely to prevail in court because it has failed to prove stations would suffer “irreparable harm” by placing political ad prices online after a local buy.

Consumer advocacy group Free Press was one of several such groups that opposed NAB’s request. Free Press Senior Policy Counsel Corie Wright stated: “The court rightly rejected the NAB’s latest feeble attempt to curb public access to station political files. This first round victory goes to transparency and the public, and we’ll continue to advocate for better access to this already public information.”

Under the new FCC rules adopted in April, the agency expects TV affiliates of the four major networks in the top 50 markets to begin posting documents for their public files to the FCC website Aug. 2 with other TV stations to do so within two years. The FCC only required new documents for the political file to be posted, rather than the whole file.

Late Friday, the FCC said it will hold two online sessions to provide “high resolution views” of the application screens and reiterate material presented in its previous demo. The sessions are slated for 9 a.a. Monday, July 30 and 4 p.m. Tuesday, July 31. Those interested in viewing must visit the FCC’s site in advance and join the teleconference before the scheduled start time.