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NAB, RTNDA Fight, Win On Political Rules

NAB, RTNDA Fight, Win On Political Rules

A federal appeals court has ordered the FCC to repeal the personal attack/political editorial rules.
A disappointed FCC Chairman Bill Kennard says the commission will study the public interest obligations of broadcasters in the digital age, including whether the personal attack/political editorial rules should be reinstated.
NAB and RTNDA are ecstatic. “This decision represents an historic victory in the 20-year fight to gain broadcasters the same free speech rights as print journalists,” said NAB President/CEO Eddie Fritts.
The court ruling came days after NAB and RTNDA filed an “emergency motion” with a federal court asking justices to order the commission to revoke the rules.
Fritts said it was clear from the decision “that future FCC attempts to regulate free speech would be viewed with skepticism.”
The FCC temporarily suspended, not repealed, the rules last week.
In their decision, D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals Judges Judith Rogers and Chief Judge Harry Edwards said the suspension just postponed a final decision on the issue by the FCC, and said it was “folly” to “suppose the 60-day suspension and call to update the record cures anything.”
The personal attack rule required stations to notify a person whose honesty, character or integrity is attacked and provide that person a chance to respond. The political editorial rule required any licensee that endorses or opposes a candidate to provide opponents with notice and an opportunity to respond. The rules are among the last vestiges of the Fairness Doctrine, which the commission stopped enforcing in 1987.
Leslie Stimson