TV stations sue over FCC rule that they must post political ad revenues online

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On Tuesday the National Association of Broadcasters announced they were challenging the constitutionality of the new rule.

The Wrap
reports that the NAB claims the new rules are ?arbitrary, capricious, in excess of the commission?s statutory authority, inconsistent with the First Amendment, and otherwise not in accordance with the law."

Corie Wright with the media activist group Free Press says, "The FCC decision to put the political files online will bring broadcasters into the 21st century, and will make already public information more easily accessible to everyone. The FCC made the right decision and is on firm legal ground.?

Under the FCC?s new rules, TV stations affiliated with the four top TV networks in the nation?s 50 largest markets will be required to file political information online first. All other TV stations would be exempt from the new requirements until July 1, 2014, to give the FCC the opportunity to see how the changes work.

In January, NPR's outstanding program On the Media ran an interview with former FCC adviser Steven Waldman, who says that putting the information online is the least that broadcasters can do to fulfill their public interest obligation.

Anybody who really enjoys watching political ads, please raise your hand.

Although you may not like them much, there is one group out there in the community that loves them. They're the folks at the local television stations, as their ad revenues soar during campaign season.

But until recently, if you wanted to know specifically how much, say, WFTS, the local ABC affiliate, was making on sales of air time to Barack Obama, Mitt Romney or any other candidate, you had to physically go down to Himes Boulevard in West Tampa and request those records. Not exactly a user-friendly way to go.

But on a 2-1 vote last month, the Federal Communications Commission ruled that TV stations must put political advertising data online (the two who supported the move were the two Democrats, with the lone Republican dissenting).

And whattaya know? The TV stations aren't very fond of providing such full disclosure, claiming such regulations are "burdensome" and saying it is unfair to impose requirements on broadcast television that don't apply to its competitors in cable and satellite.

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