Television broadcasters are suing to block an attempt by the Federal Communications Commission to crack down on media consolidation.
The lawsuit by the National Association of Broadcasters claims that the agency’s new policy is “arbitrary and capricious” and an abuse of power. The suit, filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, also claims that the FCC failed to follow proper rule-making procedure.
Under the FCC Media Bureau’s policy, which was first issued in March, the agency will scrutinize any deals between TV stations that share a single advertising staff or other resources — such as news helicopters. Later in the month, the FCC enacted broader rules against “joint sales agreements.”
Democratic FCC officials argue that major TV companies around the country are colluding to undermine the agency’s media-ownership caps.
The FCC bars any company from owning more than one of the top four TV stations in a market. By selling ads for multiple stations, companies have been able to dodge the FCC’s ownership cap while effectively controlling several stations, according to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler.
The goal of the TV ownership cap is to ensure that viewers have access to a diverse range of views in the media and that no single corporation is able to dominate the flow of information.
Republicans and broadcasters warn that the FCC’s actions will force small TV stations off the air. They argue that sharing resources helps stations save costs and focus more on covering news important to their local communities.
CORRECTION: This post has been updated to reflect that the lawsuit is over the Media Bureau’s policy guidance as opposed to the new rules on joint sales deals.
What We're Following See More »
The House has completed it's business for 2016 by passing a spending bill which will keep the government funded through April 28. The final vote tally was 326-96. The bill's standing in the Senate is a bit tenuous at the moment, as a trio of Democratic Senators have pledged to block the bill unless coal miners get a permanent extension on retirement and health benefits. The government runs out of money on Friday night.
The Senate passed the National Defense Authorization Act today, sending the $618 billion measure to President Obama. The president vetoed the defense authorization bill a year ago, but both houses could override his disapproval this time around.
"President-elect Donald Trump railed against the Trans-Pacific Partnership on his way to winning the White House and has vowed immediately to withdraw the U.S. from the 12-nation accord. Several of his cabinet picks and other early nominees to top posts, however, have endorsed or spoken favorably about the trade pact, including Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, announced Wednesday as Mr. Trump’s pick for ambassador to China, and retired Marine Gen. James Mattis, Mr. Trump’s pick to head the Department of Defense."