FCC Record, Volume 27, No. 11, Pages 8850 to 9847, July 30 - August 17, 2012 Page: 8,879
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enable candidates, the public, journalists, educators and the research community to identify the sponsors
of political advertisements, and that this transparency would enable the electorate to make informed
decisions and hold elected officials accountable.5 Newly adopted Section 73.1943(d) of the
Commission's rules requires television station licensees or applicants to begin posting the contents of
their political files on the Commission's website by the effective date of the rule, August 2, 2012.6
However, the Commission chose to exempt "all stations not in the top 50 DMAs, and all stations in the
top 50 DMAs that are not affiliated with the top four national television broadcast networks" from having
to post their political file documents online until July 1, 2014.7 Hence, smaller market stations and
stations unaffiliated with the top four networks are permitted to keep their political files at the station in
the traditional manner until July 1, 2014, at which time they too must commence posting any new
political material on the Commission's website.
3. In adopting an exemption for small market and non-affiliated stations that allows them to
delay posting their political files online, the Commission's stated purpose was to ease implementation for
broadcasters during the initial transition to the online public file, while also giving the Commission time
to ensure that the online public file system is implemented effectively." The Commission noted that,
because the contents of the political file are time-sensitive, stations must place records in the political file
"immediately absent unusual circumstances."9 The Commission stated that it was appropriate to require
stations with greater market reach to undertake this time-sensitive transition first, as they will be more
likely to have dedicated resources to address any implementation issues that arise, if necessary.'0
Moreover, the Commission stated that limiting initial compliance to network affiliates in the largest
markets, while easing initial implementation for broadcasters, will at the same time provide the public
with online access to the political files of stations garnering the vast majority of political advertising time
B. Petitioner's Waiver Request
4. WHAG is an NBC-affiliate licensed to Hagerstown, Maryland and assigned to the
Washington, DC (Hagerstown, MD) DMA (the "Washington, DC DMA"), one of the top 50 DMAs.'2 As
an affiliate of a top four network in one of the top 50 DMAs, absent a waiver, it would have to comply
with the August 2, 2012 implementation deadline by which licensees must commence posting their
political files on the Commission's website. On July 17, 2012, WHAG filed a waiver request letter
arguing that it should be treated as a de facto small market station and be required to start posting its
political file online only on July 1, 2014, like other smaller market network affiliates. WHAG makes
several arguments in support of this waiver request.
5. First, WHAG asserts that it is not the primary NBC affiliate serving the Washington, DC
5 Id at 4543, 16.
6 See Enhanced Disclosure Report and Order, 27 FCC Rcd at 4589, Appendix A, Section 73.1943(d).
7 Enhanced Disclosure Report and Order, 27 FCC Red at 4551 ; see also id at 4590, Appendix A, Section
s Id. at 4558, 146.
9 Id. at 4558, 46 & n.142 (citing infra at 4562-64, 1 55-58; 47 C.F.R. 73.1943(c)).
1o Id. at 4558, 46 & n.143 (citing the Named State Broadcasters Association Comments at 7 ("Undoubtedly, these
costs would fall even more heavily on smaller television stations.").
" Id. at 4558-59, 48.
12 Letter Waiver Request from Gregory L. Masters, Counsel for WHAG-TV, to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, FCC
at 1 (July 17, 2012) ("Waiver Request").
Federal Communications Commission
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United States. Federal Communications Commission. FCC Record, Volume 27, No. 11, Pages 8850 to 9847, July 30 - August 17, 2012, book, August 2012; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc133015/m1/46/: accessed March 21, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.