Hagerstown TV eludes political file requirement


Political AdvertisingNobody familiar with Hagerstown MD would confuse it with a Top 50 market, yet according to Nielsen DMA definitions, it is considered part of Washington DC and subject to the FCC’s new online political advertising posting requirement.

The name Nielsen uses for the market is Washington DC (Hagerstown MD), throwing Hagerstown’s secondary status in bold relief.

WHAG is Hagerstown’s NBC affiliate. It argued several points:

* Back in the day when Arbitron provided TV data, it considered Hagerstown to be a separate market and ranked in #192 as recently as 1996.
* WHAG serves the local Hagerstown area
* Washington is served ably by WRC-TV.
* Six television stations in Washington serve more than 2.3M housesholds while WHAG reaches less than 25% of that total.

The FCC agreed. It said, “Petitioner has therefore shown that good cause exists for grant of the instant waiver request. We will therefore waive compliance with the requirement that WHAG post its political file documents online, pursuant to Section 73.1943(d) of the Commission’s rules, until July 1, 2014.”

RBR-TVBR observation: As a long-time resident of the Washington DC metropolitan area, I can honestly say I did not once tune in WHAG, nor do I ever recall even having the option. It wasn’t available off air in any of the many locations where I kept my trusty softball glove, nor was I aware of it being on one single MVPD lineup to which I ever subscribed. Good call, FCC.