Big Four affiliates in the top 50 Nielsen DMAs will be the guinea pigs for online public files, including political advertising data, on a split vote. NAB endorsed Commissioner Robert McDowell’s vote, but McDowell was the loser.
Chairman Julius Genachowski and Commissioner Mignon Clyburn approved the measure, designed to make the public file as public as possible by getting it out of backroom filing cabinets at each individual station and putting it on an FCC-hosted website where all can have access.
A major sticking point in the proceeding came in the political advertising arena. Broadcaster have argued that putting detailed lowest-unit-rate information on the website will cause numerous problems for them, giving both competitors and clients easy access to sensitive pricing information while allowing their competitors to continue to operate without similar disclosure requirements.
In the end, the FCC decided that if it’s required to be in the file, and the file is moving online, then it should move online.
The requirement will be phased in, with network affiliates in the nation’s top markets blazing the trail. Other stations will have two years to observe, learn and prepare to make the change.
The NAB was not happy with the vote. See the broadcast organization’s response here.