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NAB Files Motion to Stay FCC Public File Rule

Rule would go into effect Aug. 2

This story originally appeared in TV Technology and has been modified.

The National Association of Broadcasters filed an emergency motion to stay the new rule requiring TV stations to post their public inspection files online. The trade association filed the motion in U.S. District Court for the D.C. Circuit to stay the rule before it comes into effect Aug. 2.

The FCC is considering applying the change to radio as well.

This is NAB’s second attempt to stay the effectiveness of the new rule. It filed a lawsuit with the D.C. Court of Appeals in May, asking to have the rule vacated. It has now requested that a stay remain in effect pending the outcome of a complete judicial review.

NAB also asked the FCC itself to stay the rule, pending the outcome of judicial review.

“The FCC engaged in arbitrary and capricious decision-making by disregarding the competitive harm that is likely to result from the order,” said NAB in its petition. “NAB’s members will suffer irreparable harm absent a stay because the order compels television station to post the prices for specific advertisements to a public website immediately after the sales.”

Broadcasters keep track of how much they charge for political advertisements in their public inspection files. FCC rules require that the offer candidates the lowest unit rates within 45 days of a primary election or 60 days from a general election.

The information has previously been available in paper files located at the stations. The FCC passed new rules in April requiring broadcasters to keep public inspection file information in a database hosted by the commission.

“This will place NAB’s members at a distinct disadvantage to their non-broadcast competitors, who will not be required to post rate information on the Internet,” said the trade association.

In the meantime, the FCC has scheduled a public demonstration of the new online database portal for July 17.

— Deborah D. McAdams