Just this week, the trade group succeeded in getting a rider attached to the new budget bill grandfathering current JSAs. And in October, it managed to derail another Tom Wheeler anti-broadcasting measure — eliminating the so-called exclusivity rules that effectively block the importation of distant signals into markets. While there are more challenges ahead in the new year, the NAB leadership and staff should spend the holidays reveling in their accomplishments.
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s push to eliminate the exclusivity rules is on indefinite hold, according to an agency source. The NAB has been working to derail the effort, concerned in part that elimination of the rules would undermine broadcasters’ ability to negotiate for retrans fees.
FCC Mass Media Bureau Chief Bill Lake rejects broadcasters’ assertion that the rules are “inextricably linked” to the compulsory copyright license and that their elimination will effectively give cable and satellite operators “a free ride” to carry broadcast signals without paying for them.”The asserted inextricable link does not exist — nor does the imagined free ride,” he says.
“While I believe that repealing the compulsory license is warranted,” says former Disney lobbying Preston Padden, the one unthinkable course “would be to break apart the carefully balanced 1971 agreement between the broadcasting and cable industries — to eliminate the FCC’s syndicated exclusivity and network nonduplication rules before Congress acts to repeal the distant signal compulsory license.”
The NAB tells the FCC that weakening exclusivity rules would cost local broadcasters ratings and revenue. The group cites a study showing a stations’ daylong ratings could drop by more than 16% if has to share programming.