Broadcasters file emergency motion to block political ad rule


The FCC's rule will require television broadcasters to post information about political advertisements online. 

TV stations were already required to compile data on how much political campaigns paid for ads, but previously, anyone who wanted access to the information would have to go to the station in person. The rule, adopted by the FCC in April, will require the broadcasters to load the information into a database on the FCC's website.

The FCC says the rule is part of its effort to put more information online, and watchdog groups hope the rule will shed light on the big money behind political ad campaigns by making the data more accessible. The 2012 election is expected to see an influx of spending from outside groups such as super-PACs.

But the NAB argues the rule will give an unfair advantage to its satellite and cable competitors. In Tuesday's filing, the group argued that the rule will allow pay television providers to keep tabs on broadcast stations' advertising rates.

"Non-broadcast competitors will be able to determine in a matter of seconds exactly what prices local broadcast stations are charging for specific spots," the group wrote. "As a result, they will acquire an unfair advantage over broadcasters in the competition for political and commercial advertising, just as a poker player who is able to peak at an opponent’s hand acquires an unfair advantage in a poker game."

The broadcasters noted that political advertising is a big business; campaigns and outside groups spend more than a $1 billion on television advertising during election years. They argued that if the online database allows satellite and cable providers to undercut their prices, broadcasters could lose millions of dollars.

Republicans on the House Appropriations Committee briefly added a provision to a federal spending bill that would have stripped the FCC of its ability to enforce the rules, but the Republicans backed down when it became clear they wouldn't be able to enact the restriction in time to stop the regulations.