Broadcasters challenge political expenditure information disclosure law

[JURIST] The National Association of Broadcasters [advocacy website] on Tuesday filed an emergency motion [text, PDF] with the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit [official website] challenging a new regulation that is expected to go into effect in August. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) [official website] adopted the new rule [77 Fed. Reg. 27631, PDF] in April requiring broadcasters to disclose political expenditure and advertising information on a central website maintained by the FCC, revealing online the prices broadcasters are charging for specific ad spots. Currently the information is only available in paper form, requiring the person seeking it to devote significant amount of time, money and other resources. The NAB is seeking to block the enforcement of the new rule while legal proceedings are ongoing. The organization argued that the rule would place competitive broadcasters such as ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox [corporate websites] in harmful situations because non-competitive broadcasters are able to obtain the information much easier. Additionally, the organization claimed that the new law is inconsistent with the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (BCRA) [materials], which only requires television stations to make available political advertising sales information in form of paper records. If the court rejects the motion, the broadcasters are compelled to publish the information requested on FCC's website beginning August 2.

Fox had a recently won a case against the FCC in Federal Communications Commission v. Fox Television Stations, Inc. [SCOTUSblog backgrounder]. The US Supreme Court [official website] ruled unanimously [JURIST report] that the FCC indecency guidelines were too vague to be properly enforced thereby violating the First and Fifth Amendments [text]. The case arose out of two separate broadcasts including a nudity scene and a celebrity using expletives during live broadcast. The Court had heard oral arguments [JURIST report] in the case in January.

 

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