FCC Aims to Crack Down on TV Consolidation

The agency plans to limit coordination and deals between TV stations.

A customer stands in front of a wall of flat panel televisions at a Best Buy store June 19, 2007 in San Francisco, California.
National Journal
Brendan Sasso
Add to Briefcase
See more stories about...
Brendan Sasso
March 6, 2014, 9:08 a.m.

The Fed­er­al Com­mu­nic­a­tions Com­mis­sion plans to tight­en its reg­u­la­tions that lim­it how many broad­cast TV sta­tions a single com­pany can own in any one mar­ket.

The rules are in­ten­ded to pro­mote com­pet­i­tion and en­sure that view­ers have ac­cess to a di­verse range of views in the me­dia. But Re­pub­lic­ans are ex­pec­ted to op­pose the move, warn­ing it could force some loc­al TV sta­tions out of busi­ness.

FCC Chair­man Tom Wheel­er an­nounced a pro­pos­al Thursday that would crack down on “joint sales agree­ments,” in which one TV sta­tion sells ads for an­oth­er. TV broad­casters ar­gue the deals al­low strug­gling sta­tions to share costs.

But FCC of­fi­cials con­cluded that the ar­range­ments un­der­mine the agency’s me­dia-own­er­ship rules by al­low­ing one sta­tion to con­trol or in­flu­ence an­oth­er. Un­der Wheel­er’s pro­pos­al, any sta­tion that sells 15 per­cent or more of the ads for an­oth­er sta­tion would count as own­ing that sta­tion for pur­poses of the agency’s me­dia-own­er­ship cap.

FCC rules bar any com­pany from own­ing more than one of the top four sta­tions in a mar­ket.

In a state­ment, Wheel­er said that treat­ing the joint-sales deals as own­er­ship is “simply re­cog­niz­ing real­ity.”  

Wheel­er’s pro­pos­al would also bar TV sta­tions from band­ing to­geth­er as a group when they ne­go­ti­ate with cable pro­viders. Cable com­pan­ies have com­plained about the in­creas­ing fees they have to pay to of­fer broad­cast TV chan­nels. The chair­man’s staff con­cluded that joint ne­go­ti­ations by broad­casters have in­creased costs for cable pro­viders, lead­ing to high­er bills for con­sumers.

The FCC plans to seek in­put on how it should handle deals between TV sta­tions to share re­sources, such as news heli­copters or staff.

The pro­pos­als closely track re­com­mend­a­tions that the Justice De­part­ment made last month. 

“The pro­posed ini­ti­at­ives are not de­signed to stop be­ne­fi­cial ef­fi­cien­cies in the tele­vi­sion busi­ness,” Wheel­er said. “They are de­signed to en­able fact-based de­term­in­a­tions to en­sure com­pet­i­tion, di­versity, and loc­al­ism at this very im­port­ant junc­ture in the me­dia mar­ket­place.”

The FCC plans to vote on the rules at its meet­ing on March 31. But Ajit Pai and Mi­chael O’Ri­elly, the two Re­pub­lic­ans on the five-mem­ber com­mis­sion, are ex­pec­ted to vote against the changes. 

In a state­ment Thursday, a spokes­man for Pai said the chair­man’s pro­posed lim­it­a­tion on joint-sales deals is “a dag­ger aimed at the heart of small-town broad­casters.”

“It’s a job-killer that would res­ult in less news pro­gram­ming, less di­versity, and more sta­tions go­ing dark,” the spokes­man said.

What We're Following See More »
SANS PROOF
NRA Chief: Leftist Protesters Are Paid
2 days ago
UPDATE
NEW TRAVEL BAN COMING SOON
Trump Still on Campaign Rhetoric
2 days ago
UPDATE
“WE’RE CHANGING IT”
Trump Rails On Obamacare
2 days ago
UPDATE

After spending a few minutes re-litigating the Democratic primary, Donald Trump turned his focus to Obamacare. “I inherited a mess, believe me. We also inherited a failed healthcare law that threatens our medical system with absolute and total catastrophe” he said. “I’ve been watching and nobody says it, but Obamacare doesn’t work.” He finished, "so we're going to repeal and replace Obamacare."

FAKE NEWS
Trump Goes After The Media
2 days ago
UPDATE

Donald Trump lobbed his first attack at the “dishonest media” about a minute into his speech, saying that the media would not appropriately cover the standing ovation that he received. “We are fighting the fake news,” he said, before doubling down on his previous claim that the press is “the enemy of the people." However, he made a distinction, saying that he doesn't think all media is the enemy, just the "fake news."

FBI TURNED DOWN REQUEST
Report: Trump Asked FBI to Deny Russia Stories
2 days ago
THE LATEST

"The FBI rejected a recent White House request to publicly knock down media reports about communications between Donald Trump's associates and Russians known to US intelligence during the 2016 presidential campaign, multiple US officials briefed on the matter tell CNN. But a White House official said late Thursday that the request was only made after the FBI indicated to the White House it did not believe the reporting to be accurate."

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login