The federal court in Philadelphia said the FCC, in eliminating the newspaper-broadcast crossownership rule and relaxing the local TV duopoly rule, failed to ascertain the impact of the action on station ownership by women and minorities. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai blasted the ruling and the court, which has repeatedly blocked ownership dereg: “It’s become quite clear that there is no evidence or reasoning — newspapers going out of business, broadcast radio struggling, broadcast TV facing stiffer competition than ever — that will persuade them to change their minds.”
Gray Television’s deal to buy KDLT Sioux Fall, S.D., and create a precedent-setting affiliate duopoly in the market has been hung up at the FCC for 15 months without any explanation. For the sake of buyers and sellers, large and small, the FCC needs to act.
When it comes to those opposing modifications to the FCC’s media ownership rules, the National Association of Broadcasters is not holding back in its most recent comments. The organization wrote that comments submitted in opposition to reform are “fundamentally backward” in this new media marketplace.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai put in a plug Wednesday for giving the FCC some fast track broadcast deregulatory authority. In a House Communications Subcommittee FCC oversight hearing, Pai said that the disconnect between a moving marketplace and the “stasis” of FCC rules was the fundamental issue the FCC had with its media ownership rules.
The cable trade association says the commission should not only retain its ban on the common ownership of two full-power Big Four network affiliates in the same market, but should also close a “loophole” that allows affiliates to double up by carrying Big Four programming on low-power stations and multicast streams. NCTA such deals give broadcasters an unfair advantage during retrans negotiations.
This Thursday and Friday, at a “workshop” in Washington, broadcasters get to make the case to the antitrust division of the Justice Department that TV stations compete not only with each other, but also with cable and digital media like Facebook and Google. It’s nice that Justice is giving broadcasters this opportunity to air their grievances, but I’m doubtful it will trigger a change in policy, at least not in the short term.
The FCC chairman tells the NAB Show that when it comes to the commission’s review, “we will not be deterred by those whose regulatory views are not guided by facts and reasons, but instead were set in stone in the era of Laverne & Shirley, Starsky & Hutch and The Captain and Tennille.”
FCC Commissioners Michael O’Rielly, Brendan Carr and Geoffrey Starks weighed in on localization and local broadcasters’ coverage of crises during an NAB Show panel session.
FCC chief Ajit Pai should finish what he started on local TV ownership reform by approving the precedent-setting station sale in Sioux Fall, S.D. Action is long overdue.
The FCC told a federal appeals court this week that it did gauge the impact of its 2017 broadcast deregulation on media ownership diversity and found it would have “no material impact.” That came in a brief to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, which is hearing appeals by Prometheus and others of that media ownership deregulation.