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TV Stations Must Make Ad Rates Public, FCC Rules

2 May, 2012 By: Jackie Jones

WASHINGTON – The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted last week to enforce broadcast TV stations to post their advertising rates online in an effort to increase transparency and secure easier public access.

A variety of broadcasters and lobbying groups have publicly opposed the decision, saying it undermines station competitiveness and provides advertisers with unfair leverage in the process.

“(The National Association of Broadcasters) 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 in an official statement. “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.”

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. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski disagreed, saying there was no reason that data should be “stuck in a filing cabinet” online.

The top four network s – 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, according to multiple media reports.

“The commission’s action is an important victory for transparency and accountability in our nation’s public policy, making broadcasters’ public files truly public,” Meredith McGehee, policy directory of the Campaign Legal Center, (which advocated for the change), told Yahoo! News.

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