The cable trade group tells FCC Chairman Wheeler that the commission should review all station sales in which licensees have or plan to enter into coordination agreements such as shared services agreements to avoid violating the commission’s media ownership rule.
ACA Backs Rockefeller’s FCC SSA Push
On Tuesday, the American Cable Association sent FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler a letter asking the commission to review TV station sales that involve what it calls “efforts to evade the FCC rule that prohibits ownership of more than one of the four most highly rated stations in a market.”
The letter says that there has been “widespread and increasing consolidation in the local television marketplace, particularly the rising prevalence of separately owned, same-market network affiliates of the ‘Big Four’ broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC) colluding in their sale of retransmission consent, often under cover of various forms of ‘coordination agreements’ in ways that are harmful to competition and consumers.
“In this regard, ACA was heartened to read the recent letter from Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John D. Rockefeller IV urging the commission to evaluate fully the public interest impact of coordination agreements on local television markets, and wait for the issuance of the report he asked the Government Accountability Office to prepare regarding the impact of coordination agreements, before permitting any further broadcast consolidation to occur.
“In particular, Chairman Rockefeller asked that the commission gather evidence and review carefully and deliberately ‘transactions involving U.S. broadcast licenses’ in which licensees have or plan to enter into coordination agreements such as shared services agreements to avoid violating the commission’s media ownership rule. This rule limits a single entity to owning just one of the top-four rated television stations in a local market.
“ACA submits that the way to do this is for the commission to review all such license applications en banc in “permit-but-disclose” proceedings, rather than have them acted upon by the Media Bureau under delegated authority. Only by doing so can the commission ensure that the public values of competition, localism and diversity are fully served by its reviews of transactions involving U.S. broadcast licenses.”