NAB asks courts to stay political file posting


NAB / National Association of BroadcastersThe NAB has already asked the FCC to stay its new rule requiring broadcast television stations to post political advertising information online, and now it has repeated the request with the DC Circuit.

As with the FCC request, NAB stated certainty that it will win its appeal of the rule on grounds that the FCC acted in an arbitrary and capricious manner when hitting television stations with the requirement.

The justification for labeling the requirement arbitrary and capricious is simple:

“NAB’s members will suffer irreparable harm absent a stay because the Order compels television stations to post the prices for specific advertisements to a public website immediately after the sales occur. This will place NAB’s members at a distinct disadvantage to their non-broadcast competitors, who will not be required to post rate information on the Internet. The balance of hardships and the public interest also favor a stay because the likely harm from requiring immediate posting of detailed price information about specific advertising sales outweighs the benefits of such a requirement.”

RBR-TVBR observation: The FCC would perhaps be on firmer footing if it had warned television broadcasters of its intention to explore online political posting at such a time as when it is in a position to impose it on television and other advertising venues under its oversight.

But it would still face serious challenges – NAB has argued that the requirement is outside the parameters prescribed by the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act. It would also place FCC-regulated media at a disadvantage with competitors in media not regulated by the FCC. It could be argued that this is a matter for the FEC, not the FCC.

It can also be argued that the NAB’s counter-proposal to post reasonably-detailed political advertising summaries would be much more useful to watchdogs and citizens than getting the full sales document dump the FCC wants.

This editor often works on complex data projects, and has looked at the TWC dump, and I can say unequivocally that I’d much rather work with the summary as described by NAB than the raw dump.

For all these reasons, the stay should be granted in advance of striking down the FCC’s requirement.