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FCC Seeks Comment Regarding Online Political File Requirement

June 26, 2013

On June 25, 2013, the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC or Commission) Media Bureau issued a Public Notice seeking comments regarding the requirement that broadcast television stations post their political files online.  Under the two-part online political file rule, affiliates of the ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC networks located in the top-50 markets have, since August 2, 2012, been required to upload new political file documents to their online public file.  On July 1, 2014, all remaining television stations will be required to place political file information online.

In the Second Report and Order adopting the online political file rule, the FCC committed to issuing a Public Notice no later than July 1, 2013 seeking comments regarding phase one of the rule implementation.  The Public Notice states that more than 66,000 documents have been uploaded to the political files, including nearly 27,000 documents in the month before the November 6, 2012 general election.  The Media Bureau is seeking comments from television stations that presently are subject to online posting, television stations that presently are exempt from online posting and members of the public who review the online political file about the logistics of posting and the usefulness of the posted information.

Additionally, the Media Bureau is seeking comment on a Petition for Reconsideration filed by some of the largest television station owners in June 2012.  The Petition for Reconsideration contended that requiring disclosure of specific rate information is unnecessary to achieve the goals of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act and is anti-competitive.  As an alternative, the owners asked the Commission to permit television broadcasters to provide, on an opt-in basis, aggregate information about the money spent by each sponsor.  The Public Interest Public Airwaves Coalition has opposed the petition.

Comments in response to the Public Notice are due by August 26, 2013, and reply comments are due by September 23, 2013.

For additional information, or if you are interested in submitting comments, please contact one of the attorneys listed below or the Wiley Rein attorney who regularly handles your FCC matters.