Eventually, Congress or the White House is going to cave and the FCC will be back to its old self. That’s too bad. Wouldn’t it be nice if the shutdown of some pointless and counterproductive broadcast regulations were permanent?
The cable association urges the FCC not to act on raising the 39% ownership cap before knowing how much such an action could increase cable rates. ACA wants the commission to consult with the new Office of Economics and Analytics and seek an econometric analysis
Free Press and other groups challenge what they call the FCC’s dramatic reversal of media-ownership limits that pave way for media mergers, including Sinclair-Tribune.
The attorneys general say that the FCC lacks authority to raise the nominal 39% cap, but it does have the power to eliminate the UHF discount and it should exercise that power to prevent all stations groups from exceeding 39%. “[L]ifting or eliminating the national audience reach limit threatens diversity, competition, and localism,” they say.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai circulates a draft of a rulemaking to consider retaining, modifying or eliminating the cap that, with the restoration of the UHF discount earlier this year, now enables TV station groups to reach as many as 78% of TV homes. A vote on the proposal is set for Dec. 14.
In response to the FCC’s Sept. 14 request for “specific plans” on how it intends to comply with ownership limits, Sinclair said in a late filing today it would be “premature” to set forth any plans given the DOJs concurrent review of the deal and the possibility the FCC may relax the limits.
Gray Television exec Kevin Latek’s background is in communications law and he thinks the current FCC needs to update the commission’s ownership rules to reflect the reality of today’s TV ecosystem, not that of the 1950s or even the 1990s.
After loosening national ownership regulations, expectations are high that the FCC will move to allow two stations in every market regardless of whether or not they are network affiliates. Under one scenario, action could come as early as this summer.
The commission asks a federal appeals court to reject a call to block the FCC’s restoration the UHF discount, which increased the national coverage cap on station groups to as much as 78%.
Several advocacy groups led by Free Press have petitioned the federal appeals court in Washington for an emergency stay of the FCC April decision to relax the national ownership cap. The FCC action “undermines the public interest goals of diversity, competition and localism,” the group say. The FCC has until Thursday to reply to the motion.