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NAB Sues FCC Over Political Ad Reporting Proposal

23 May, 2012 By: Jackie Jones

WASHINGTON – The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) is suing the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) over its recently proposed rules requiring TV stations to post their advertising rates online.

The new rules, which would require TV stations to post the rates charges to political candidates and campaign advertisers on a Web site dedicated to the issue, would directly and adversely impact the NAB and television stations but not that of local cable operators and TV sales groups, the association said.

“(The FCC’s actions are) arbitrary, capricious and in excess of the commission’s statutory authority, inconsistent with the First Amendment,” the NAB said.

A coalition of broadcasters had suggested a compromise to the FCC that would have required TV stations to put public files online while keeping information about political spending private (Response This Week, May 2). FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski disagreed, saying there was no reason data should be “stuck in a filing cabinet” online.

“(The) NAB respectfully disagrees with the FCC decision, and we’re disappointed that the commission rejected compromise proposals proffered by broadcasters that would have brought greater transparency to political ad buying,” the lobbying group that represents television stations said earlier this month. “By forcing broadcasters to be the only medium to disclose on the Internet our political advertising rates, the FCC jeopardizes the competitive standing of stations that provide local news, entertainment, sports and life-saving weather information free of charge to tens of millions of Americans daily.”

The top four networks – ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox – and all other stations in the top 50 broadcast markets have six months to comply with the FCC’s ruling; all other stations must comply within two years. Broadcast stations will be required to digitize and upload all new information in real time, though they are not required to post past political ad rates online, and smaller stations can request a waiver based on hardship.

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