A minor victory this afternoon for those who’d like to see television stations disclose on the Web the same information about political ad sales that they already have to make public on paper. The U.S. Court of Appeals in D.C. rejected a request by the National Association of Broadcasters to stay rules that the FCC adopted in April requiring the top four stations in the 50 largest markets to send their political ad data to the regulators for online posting. The rules are on track to take effect August 2. (The FCC wants all other stations to comply starting July 2014.) The NAB appealed the decision this month saying that TV stations will be “at a distinct disadvantage to their non-broadcast competitors” if they have to post the ad rates online after a sale. The damage to stations’ sales efforts would be so great that it “outweighs the benefits” to people who want to know who’s spending how much on TV to influence their opinions in an election. But the court said, without explanation, that the NAB “has not satisfied the stringent requirements for a stay pending court review.” That pleased Free Press, an activist group that’s an intervenor in the case. “This first round victory goes to transparency and the public, and we’ll continue to advocate for better access to this already public information,” Senior Policy Counsel Corie Wright says. NAB spokesman Dennis Wharton says that while the group is “disappointed” it will continue to fight the case on the merits. It’s ” fundamentally unfair for local TV stations to be the only medium required to disclose on the Internet sensitive advertising rate information,” he says.
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