The National Association of Broadcasters, an industry group representing television stations around the country, is asking a court to block the implementation of a new rule that will put political ad information online before it goes into effect next month.
The Federal Communications Commission announced last week that the rule will go into effect Aug. 2. It will require affiliates of the four major networks in the nation’s top 50 markets to post on a new website data about who is buying political ads and how much they are paying, among other information. The data is expected to help shed light on dark money spending by outside groups as well as spending by campaigns. The information is already public but is only available on paper at stations.
In a motion filed Tuesday with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, the broadcasters’ trade group said that if the new FCC rule goes into effect, broadcasters “will suffer irreparable harm … because the [rule] compels television stations to post the prices for specific advertisements to a public website immediately after the sales occur.” The motion also argues that the FCC has “engaged in arbitrary and capricious decisionmaking by disregarding the competitive harm that is likely to result.”
The broadcasters have been fighting the new rule for the better part of a year, first mounting an aggressive lobbying effort before the FCC vote in April, then suing in May after the rule was passed, and now making an emergency request for a stay.
As we’ve previously noted, the commission is not requiring the files to be uploaded in a single format, which will make searching and analyzing the information a challenge.
The FCC said last week that it would “soon schedule user testing and educational webinars … to ensure that the uploading of materials by broadcasters can be conducted smoothly and efficiently.”