Stay Tuned: New FCC Rules on Political Ads Begin Today

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Score another one for the FCC in their bid to require local television stations to make information available online as to who’s paying for political commercials and how much.

On Friday, the U.S. Court of Appeals rejected an attempt by the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) to delay the FCC’s new rules requiring easily accessible transparency. As per the media reform group Free Press:

“Under the new FCC rules adopted in April, all broadcast TV stations will have to transition their paper public files to an online version. Stations affiliated with a major broadcast network in the top 50 media markets will have to place their political files online starting August 2, 2012. All other TV stations will have to put their political files online starting July 2014.”

According to Ad Week magazine, “The NAB argued that because the political files disclose ad rates, TV stations ‘will suffer irreparable harm’ and ‘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.’”

“In the brief, one paragraph order, the Court said that the NAB had not ‘satisfied the stringent requirements for a stay pending court review.’ The ruling did not address the merits of the case, which will proceed.”

“The case, which will proceed” refers to a petition for review filed by the NAB in April, charging, according to the Reuters news service, “that the rules are arbitrary, capricious, violate free speech protections in the U.S. Constitution and go beyond the FCC’s statutory authority.”

Although it will not block Thursday’s implementation of the new rules, that court challenge still stands and “will be debated on its merits,” according to an NAB spokesman. Nonetheless, in the words of Free Press senior policy counsel Corie Wright, “[The] first round victory goes to transparency and the public.”

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