Broadcast television stations currently exempt from the FCC’s online political file requirement should prepare to upload political file information to the FCC’s online public file website beginning on July 1, 2014.  A Public Notice from the FCC’s Media Bureau reminded television stations outside of the top 50 markets or not associated with the top four television networks that they must begin to upload political files to the online public file on that date.

This deadline goes into effect even though the FCC has not yet considered comments submitted in response to a June 2013 public notice seeking information about the experience of stations that were already required to upload these files and the ability of exempt stations to comply with the upcoming deadline.  In its 2012 Online Public File Order, the FCC indicated that the 2013 public notice would “enable the Commission to consider whether any changes should be made before the requirement takes effect for the other stations.”  However, the Media Bureau’s most recent public notice suggests that the FCC need not address those comments, observing that because the Commission “has not acted upon that Public Notice, or in any way altered the online political file requirement or the July 1, 2014 deadline for compliance by television stations that are currently exempt . . . the requirement as codified –the July 1, 2014 compliance deadline for stations not subject to the 2012 deadline – still stands.”

Therefore, beginning July 1, 2014, all television broadcasters outside of the top 50 markets or not associated with the top 4 television networks must upload on a going-forward basis the following political file material to the online political file:

  • Candidate Orders: Final orders for broadcast time made by or on behalf of a candidate. The political file material must include: the name of the candidate, the election, the name of the candidate’s authorized committee, the name, address, phone number of a contact person for the candidate or committee; the name of the committee’s treasurer; a schedule of time purchased; the length of the spots and when the actually aired; the rates charged; the classes of time purchased; and information on rebates.
  • Non-Advertising Use by a Candidate: The candidate’s name, the election, the candidate’s authorized committee; and the time and duration of the appearance.
  • Issue Advertisements: When the spot involves a discussion of a “controversial issue of public importance or political matter, and the sponsor is a corporation, committee, or group, the public file must include – a list of the chief executive officers or members of the executive committee or the board of directors of the sponsor.
  • BCRA – When the spot involves a message relating to a political matter of national importance, including: (i) a candidate, (ii) a federal election, or (iii) any national legislative issue of national importance, then the political file must include all information required for candidate ads and a list of the chief executive officers or members of the executive committee or the board of directors of the organization sponsoring the ad.

Do not place in the online public file:

  • Requests for time that do not result in a final order;
  • Checks or credit card information – proof of payment is NOT required; or
  • Memos containing internal valuations of packages.