Groups Urge Court: Don’t Cave In on Political Disclosure Online

Free Press and five others advocated for new FCC rule

A half-dozen public interest groups that advocated for the Federal Communications Commission's new rule to move TV station political files online, petitioned the court to defend the regulation in the case brought in May by the National Association of Broadcasters.

The motion to intervene was filed Wednesday by Free Press and five other organizations in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

The Free Press, Benton Foundation, Common Cause, Campaign Legal Center, New America Foundation and the Office of Communication of the United Church of Christ played a big part in pushing the FCC to adopt the rule and feel they have a lot of skin in the game to make sure it's not overturned.  

"Access to the political records contained in broadcaster public files will enable candidates, as well as the public, journalists, educators and the research community, to identify and investigate those sponsoring political advertisement," the groups wrote in the motion, quoting the FCC's new rule.

Broadcasters, arguing that they are being singled out as the only medium to disclose its ad rates online, are fighting hard to overturn the rule that passed along a party line vote by the FCC in April. In addition to the DC Circuit challenge, the nation's leading affiliate broadcast owners filed a petition with the FCC asking the agency to reconsider the rule and offering an alternative. Broadcasters also filed extensive comments with the Office of Management and Budget, which is in the process of reviewing the rule.

In a small setback for broadcasters, a House Appropriations Committee Wednesday decided to remove a budget measure that would have blocked the FCC from enforcing the rule. Instead, the committee replaced the item with a new amendment that will require the General Accountability Office to conduct a study on the rule's impact.