Broadcasters Keep Pressure on FCC Over ‘Joint Sales’ Decision
Posted at 5:12 p.m. on May 30, 2014
The National Association of Broadcasters says it will sue the Federal Communications Commission over its vote back in March to set restrictions on joint sales agreements between broadcast television stations. The broadcasters say the agency’s attempts to level that playing field are outdated, considering who the other players are in the broader TV industry.
JSAs allow one broadcaster to control some or all of the ad time at another station in the same market. The FCC ruling was intended to maintain competition at the local level. The NAB says it’s coming at the agency from two directions:
Congress requires the FCC every four years to review its ownership rules to “determine whether any of [them] are necessary in the public interest as the result of competition,” and “repeal or modify any regulation” no longer in the public interest. In its petition, NAB will explain that the FCC violated this congressional mandate by failing to complete its 2010 review.
NAB’s petition will also challenge the FCC’s decision to treat agreements between two television stations for the sale of advertising time as an ownership interest prohibited in most markets under its local television ownership rule – a rule that the FCC failed to determine is “in the public interest as the result of competition.”
In the statement Dennis Wharton, the group’s executive vice president for communications said: “NAB believes that a fact-based examination of today’s marketplace would show that FCC ownership restrictions against free and local broadcasters are outdated in a world of national pay TV giants.”
House Energy and Commerce Committee approved a bill earlier this month that would let broadcasters to petition the FCC to postpone application of this restriction through either 2016 or up to 18 months after the FCC denies a waiver petition, whichever comes later.