NAB to Court: FCC Fails to See Serious Harm in Online Posting

7/24/2012 6:17 PM Eastern

In the latest parry in the duel between the FCC and broadcasters over the FCC's new online filing requirement for TV station public files, the National Association of Broadcasters again asked a D.C. Federal Court to block the Aug. 2 effective date of that mandate.

In reply comments on its request for an emergency stay of the rules by the court until after it has ruled on broadcasters' appeal, NAB said that the FCC, in its opposition to the stay, had yet again failed to recognize the potential harm to competition of having to publicize detailed information on political ad rates in an easily accessible database.

NAB says that the FCC does not dispute that an industry wide posting of pricing would violate antitrust laws were it not compelled by the FCC, but that the FCC says those laws can be "disregarded" because price information is already readily available. But NAB argues that such a contention contradicts the FCC's own justification for moving the public files online, which was to dramatically increase access to that information.

"Because the FCC gave inadequate consideration to the serious harm that is likely to result from its Order, and to alternative approaches that would in-crease access without harming competition, the Court should grant the motion for a stay," NAB said.

The FCC back in April approved rules that require all stations as of Aug. 2 to start posting their public files to the FCC Web site, with the exception of online political files. Those files have to be posted starting Aug. 2 by the top four network affiliates in the top 50 markets, with the balance of stations given two years to comply with that requirement. The FCC has pledged to review the online political file posting requirement after a year, allow comment from the public, and tweak if necessary.

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