Rep. Richard Neal today asked the FCC to grandfather existing JSAs between broadcasters. The Massachusetts Democrat says the agreements lead to benefits including localism and diversity.
In an effort to head off an all-out FCC ban on joint sales agreements, the National Association of Broadcasters rolled out a detailed compromise proposal on Thursday that would allow some JSAs to continue. The plan would protect JSAs that provide public interest benefits and don’t limit one station from using a sharing agreement to control other stations in the same market.
Broadcasters are pushing back against the Justice Department’s effort to rein in deals that allow competing local TV stations to pool their resources in order to sell advertising time.
The local TV station group business has quickly turned into a horror show. Shares of some of the sector’s biggest players are down more than 25% this year, the result, sources say, the result of a crackdown by the FCC on stations’ joint sales agreements. Leading the crackdown is the new FCC boss, Tom Wheeler, critics say.
Public interest watchdog groups held a lobbying session at the FCC earlier this month, making a case for barring joint sales and shared services agreements in which the stations share management or in which one of the stations in the combo sells 15% or more of the advertising time of the other.
Washington sources say the FCC chairman is studying what to do about station sales involving sharing arrangements and postponing action on pending transactions in the meantime.
The cable group tells the FCC that the $90 million purchase of eight stations uses joint sales agreements to sidestep FCC ownership regulations that bar ownership of two of the top four rated TV stations in a market.
The Hispanic broadcaster, which owns KSMS and KDJT-CA in the market, will provide marketing and sales services for Seal Rock Broadcasters’s Fox affiliate.