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Is Radio Closer to Online Public File Obligations?

FCC seeks input on expanding rules to radio, as well as cable, satellite

The FCC may be a step closer to requiring radio stations to post their public and political files online.

TV stations in large markets began meeting this obligation in 2012 and as of this July, all television stations have had to post their public file documents to the FCC-maintained online database.

Public interest groups Campaign Legal Center, Common Cause and the Sunlight Foundation petitioned the commission to expand the obligation to include satellite and cable providers too.

The commission is going further, by asking for comment on whether radio should be included. We’ve reported the FCC had hoped to eventually apply the rules to radio and so far, the FCC’s internal IT software/hardware limitations were making that work difficult to accomplish.

Despite initial concerns, NAB has characterized the first wave of implementation as “uneventful,” according to the commission. However the broadcast lobby also told the agency that singling out the cost of television political ads for online disclosure in a market when satellite and cable competitors weren’t required to do the same wasn’t fair.

The point of posting the files online is to illuminate how political ad money is spent in key races and markets.

Comments on the issue are due to the FCC (MB Docket 14-127) by Aug. 28 and replies by Sept. 8. — the latter is two days before the start of the NAB/RAB Radio Show, so expect to see requests for extensions.