TVNewsCheck’s prescient editor, Harry Jessell, asks his infallible Magic 8-Ball to reveal how 2019 will unfold for various aspects of the television business, including core advertising, political advertising, retrans, mergers, FCC ownership caps, Big-4 duopolies and ATSC 3.0. He then expounds on the answers since, while all-knowing, the 8-Ball is notoriously terse.
In its mandated quadrennial review, the commission seeks comment on local radio and television ownership rules, the dual network rule that prohibits a merger among the Big Four broadcast networks and diversity-related proposals.
As expected, the FCC on Dec. 12 will officially launch its latest congressionally mandated “Quadrennial” review of broadcast ownership rules. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai did the unveiling Tuesday in his monthly blog post on the items the FCC plans to vote on at its next public meeting, which he does when the tentative agenda is released 21 days before the meeting.
Labor Day is receding in the rear view mirror and now it’s time to buckle down. In the weeks and months ahead broadcasters will be looking for answers on what the FCC will do about the ownership cap; who will be the big buyers and sellers in the station M&A market; how will the ratings for NFL games fare; and which new fall broadcast network shows will hit or miss. Advertising is always top of mind and there are several upcoming events that will discuss just that.
Three consent decrees entered into by public companies in recent months for, without prior FCC approval, moving station licenses among wholly-owned subsidiaries as part of corporate reorganizations, remind broadcasters that if they are making any change in their ownership where the chain of control changes, even if actual control remains the same, they still need prior FCC approval.
Public broadcasters have asked the FCC to exempt noncommercial TV statiions from a regulation requiring them to broadcast using two different standards during rollout of the new ATSC 3.0 standard.
In a Des Monies Register op-ed, FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel bemoans the FCC’s relaxing of ownership rules and the proposed Sinclair-Tribune merger, saying “Washington should not be clearing the way for big companies to overwhelm local media markets. Because local traditions — and local coverage — matter.”
In anticipation of a Dec. 14 vote, the FCC today released the draft of the rulemaking on whether the national ownership cap on TV stations should be “retained, modified or eliminated.” It makes no recommendation, although FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is seen as favoring loosening the cap or eliminating it. With the Sinclair-Tribune merger pending and possibly in mind, the draft asks whether station groups that exceed any new cap should be grandfathered.
FCC’s Ajit Pai: “For over four decades, the FCC has restricted the ability of broadcast media outlets to also own newspapers, and vice versa, in the same market, under what is known as the newspaper-broadcast crossownership rule. There’s ample evidence that the crossownership rule has led to less local reporting. Simple fairness is another reason to change the rule.”