DOJ Pushes for Tougher TV Ownership Rules

The department urges the FCC to crack down on TV cost-sharing deals.

Members of the cast of NBC's 30 Rock.
National Journal
Brendan Sasso
Add to Briefcase
See more stories about...
Brendan Sasso
Feb. 21, 2014, 11:57 a.m.

The Justice De­part­ment is call­ing for tough­er fed­er­al rules to lim­it the abil­ity of TV sta­tions to co­ordin­ate with each oth­er.

The de­part­ment’s An­ti­trust Di­vi­sion filed a re­port Fri­day with the Fed­er­al Com­mu­nic­a­tions Com­mis­sion, ur­ging the agency to crack down on ar­range­ments that loc­al TV sta­tions use to share costs. The di­vi­sion warned that those ar­range­ments are un­der­min­ing the FCC’s me­dia-own­er­ship re­stric­tions, which are in­ten­ded to pro­mote di­verse views in the me­dia.

The di­vi­sion cri­ti­cized “joint sales agree­ments,” which al­low TV sta­tions to sell ads for each oth­er, and “joint ser­vices agree­ments,” in which TV sta­tions share re­sources, such as news heli­copters or staff. The Justice De­part­ment warned that the deals al­low one TV com­pany to ex­ert “in­flu­ence or con­trol” over com­pet­it­ors.

The de­part­ment re­com­men­ded that the FCC bar the joint sales deals if cur­rent rules would pro­hib­it the sta­tions from mer­ging. The de­part­ment said the FCC should eval­u­ate the ser­vice-shar­ing deals on a case-by-case basis.

The re­port is a boost to FCC Chair­man Tom Wheel­er, who is ex­pec­ted to push an or­der next month that would closely track those re­com­mend­a­tions.

But he will likely have to over­ride Re­pub­lic­an op­pos­i­tion. Both Ajit Pai and Mi­chael O’Ri­elly, the two Re­pub­lic­ans on the five-mem­ber com­mis­sion, have signaled that they would op­pose tough­er TV own­er­ship rules.

Den­nis Whar­ton, a spokes­man for the Na­tion­al As­so­ci­ation of Broad­casters, said he “strongly dis­agrees” with the DOJ re­port, which he warned could “kill jobs and dam­age the eco­nom­ics of loc­al broad­cast­ing.”

“Joint sales agree­ments al­low loc­al TV sta­tions that might oth­er­wise go out of busi­ness to in­crease loc­al news and com­munity ser­vice, and to provide ro­bust com­pet­i­tion to pay TV gi­ants,” he said. “In an era when $200 monthly bills from con­sol­id­ated broad­band and cable com­pan­ies are be­com­ing the norm, it’s im­port­ant to re­mem­ber that heav­ily reg­u­lated loc­al TV sta­tions re­main free of charge to every Amer­ic­an.”

The FCC is re­quired to re­view its me­dia own­er­ship rules every four years, but it nev­er com­pleted its 2010 study, which is now be­ing com­bined with the 2014 re­view.

Wheel­er will cir­cu­late the new own­er­ship rules among the FCC com­mis­sion­ers as soon as next week for a vote at the March 19 meet­ing, ac­cord­ing to of­fi­cials. The com­mis­sion is also ex­pec­ted to seek pub­lic com­ments on its rules re­strict­ing the abil­ity of a single com­pany to own a broad­cast sta­tion and news­pa­per in a single mar­ket.

What We're Following See More »
STARTS LEGAL FUND FOR WH STAFF
Trump to Begin Covering His Own Legal Bills
1 days ago
THE DETAILS
DISCUSSED THE MATTER FOR A NEW BOOK
Steele Says Follow the Money
1 days ago
STAFF PICKS

"Christopher Steele, the former British intelligence officer who wrote the explosive dossier alleging ties between Donald Trump and Russia," says in a new book by The Guardian's Luke Harding that "Trump's land and hotel deals with Russians needed to be examined. ... Steele did not go into further detail, Harding said, but seemed to be referring to a 2008 home sale to the Russian oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev. Richard Dearlove, who headed the UK foreign-intelligence unit MI6 between 1999 and 2004, said in April that Trump borrowed money from Russia for his business during the 2008 financial crisis."

Source:
BRITISH PUBLICIST CONNECTED TO TRUMP TOWER MEETING
Goldstone Ready to Meet with Mueller’s Team
1 days ago
THE LATEST

"The British publicist who helped set up the fateful meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and a group of Russians at Trump Tower in June 2016 is ready to meet with Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller's office, according to several people familiar with the matter. Rob Goldstone has been living in Bangkok, Thailand, but has been communicating with Mueller's office through his lawyer, said a source close to Goldstone."

Source:
SPEAKING ON RUSSIAN STATE TV
Kislyak Says Trump Campaign Contacts Too Numerous to List
1 days ago
THE LATEST

"Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak said on Wednesday that it would take him more than 20 minutes to name all of the Trump officials he's met with or spoken to on the phone. ... Kislyak made the remarks in a sprawling interview with Russia-1, a popular state-owned Russian television channel."

Source:
“BLOWING A SURE THING”
Sabato Moves Alabama to “Lean Democrat”
2 days ago
WHY WE CARE
×
×

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