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Political window opens Jan. 16; online political file looms for radio

The next big date in the broadcast political calendar comes Saturday, Jan. 16 – the date that the FCC political window opens for the March 1 Texas primary election.

It’s also when the vast majority of the FCC’s political rules kick in, the chief of which are the rules regarding advertising pricing. It’s also the time, however, that the frequency of political advertising generates more attention on sponsorship identification and recordkeeping paperwork.

Stations that missed TAB’s webinar in December on the FCC’s political broadcasting rules have a second chance at the information thanks to TAB Associate Member law firm Fletcher Heald and Hildreth. The FHH attorneys will stage a free webinar Thursday, Jan. 14 at 2 PM CT.  Read about it and sign up here.

TV stations have had to comply with the FCC’s online political broadcasting recordkeeping requirement since August 2012. After intimating repeatedly that it could impose the same requirement for radio and issuing a 2014 Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, the FCC now appears poised to do so later this month.

Radio broadcasters raised a number of concerns about the NPRM. TAB joined the 49 other state broadcast associations in filing comments on the proposed rulemaking that said radio stations tend to have smaller staffs than TV stations and in many cases operate multiple stations under one roof, thereby increasing the work to maintain the public inspection files.

Since then, the drumbeat to adopt such rules at the FCC has been very quiet – until now. The online public file order for radio, cable and satellite TV tops the FCC’s just-released agenda for its Jan. 28 meeting.

Unfortunately, there’s not much indication yet of what the rule looks like and whether there will be a phased in approach or some special consideration given to stations in smaller markets, etc.

Laurie Lynch Flick, an attorney with TAB’s FCC legal counsel Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman has a preview here.

TAB will update stations on this issue after the FCC’s meeting.

Questions? Contact TAB's Michael Schneider or call (512) 322-9944.

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