Television broadcasters were unsuccessful in getting a stay on new FCC requirements that have major network affiliates in the top 50 DMAs posting political advertising info online even as we speak. Now the NAB is asking that a hearing on its challenge of the rule be delayed.
According to a report in Hillicon Valley, the government has no problem with a delay.
From the NAB’s perspective, the process has begun, so it is better to see it through until Election Day, and then take some time to assess its full effects before wasting committing any resources to the lawsuit.
NAB says it is possible, for example, that the problems generated by the policy are not as bad as it feared going in and they may drop the case altogether.
On the other hand, they may be able to present alternatives based on hard real-time evidence.
In either case, a delay is warranted.
RBR-TVBR observation: This is a smart move by NAB. At this point, there is certainly no need to rush into anything. However, we still think a policy that puts the burden on one and only one medium while others go unburdened is indefensible.
We further think that the NAB’s previously offered alternative – the presentation of detailed weekly compilations of political spending, rather than every last document involved in a buy – makes a tremendous amount of sense for all parties.
It allows broadcasters protection of sensitive business information.
And more importantly, it gives the watchdog community news it can use immediately. We take for example watchdog Free Press, which is actively compiling advertising data which it hopes to make public. If it had the NAB-suggested summaries, there would probably be a wealth of information available on its website right now.
Instead, all we see is a call for volunteers to help sift through the data.
Bottom line: we think the NAB summary suggestion makes a ton of sense for everybody, and we believe the watchdog community shot themselves in the foot by opposing it.