FCC Plays Politics, Orders TV Stations To Publish Ad Rates Online

TV political advertising data, available to the public at TV stations and at the Federal Communications Commission, will now be available online -- much to the chagrin of TV stations.

In an effort to secure easier public access and to “increase transparency," the FCC has instituted the new rules. It would apply to the top four network affiliates -- ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox -- in the top 50 markets. Other stations will have to comply in two years.

But broadcasters say this puts them at a disadvantage -- revealing specific ad rates and details to its competitors, including local cable ad selling groups.

Much of this political advertising information had been available in paper form at TV stations since 2002; other so-called “public files” have been available since 1965.

Dennis Wharton, executive vice president of communications for the National Association of Broadcasters, stated: "By forcing broadcasters to be the only medium to disclose on the Internet our political advertising rates, the FCC jeopardizes the competitive standing of stations that provide local news, entertainment, sports and life-saving weather information free of charge to tens of millions of Americans daily."

Broadcasters had been vying for an alternative plan -- in the wake of these coming rule changes. It offered more general political advertising details, such as which candidates or groups are buying political advertising, as well as total advertising costs. But broadcasters did not want to reveal specific individual spots costs.

Stations are not required to post any older political data online -- just new information going forward. Smaller stations can seek a waiver based on hardship or other reasons.

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2 comments about "FCC Plays Politics, Orders TV Stations To Publish Ad Rates Online".
  1. Charlie Stogner from StogTv , April 30, 2012 at 8:25 a.m.
    In all due respect, the way cable ad insert rates should also be published, or at least their political rates. Recently a cable operator executive in charge of creating revenue let the 'cat out of the bag' regarding ad insert sales as it competes with local leased access ad sales. He pointed out local businesses don't need to advertise in locally focused and produced shows since their ad inserts are available. Remarkable since they banish leased access to a lesser received channel while offering ad inserts on national networks that reach all subscribers. Sadly FCC long ago stuck their head in the sand when it cable to seeing that leased access has the 'genuine outlet' prescribed by Congress.
  2. Ed Smallwood from Crystal Opinion , April 30, 2012 at 8:27 a.m.
    TV Stations use the public airwaves (free of charge) to make their money; of course they should make their information, including spot rates, accessible. The information is already required by law to be publicly available, it's just 'jurassic' in the way the data must be accessed (by visiting each station). In the internet age, this should have happened years ago. However, I do quibble with the decision to put the info. on the FCC website. I think local stations should post the rates, etc. on their own websites which could be considered analogous to local files. The government should be able to require that information be accessible but it usually gets in the way when it tries to mandate exactly 'how' procedures should be implemented.