Ion Media CEO Brandon Burgess commended FCC Chairman Ajit Pai for restoring the UHF discount in calculating compliance with the 39% national ownership cap — a move that will allow Ion to be sold in toto even though its coverage (64.8%) far exceeds the nominal cap. "This action allows small entrepreneurial and consumer-oriented companies like Ion Media to continue to succeed in a consolidating media world," he said in an open letter.
Ion’s Burgess Lauds Pai For Ownership Relief
In an open letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, Ion Media CEO Brandon Burgess on Thursday praised Pai for restoring the UHF discount that will enable Ion Media and other station groups to exceed the nominal 39% cap on national coverage.
“This action allows small entrepreneurial and consumer-oriented companies like Ion Media to continue to succeed in a consolidating media world,” the letter says.
Under former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, the FCC late last year imposed a hard 39% cap on stations groups by eliminating the discount, which counts only half the coverage of markets served by UHF stations.
Ion and Trinity promptly petitioned the Pai FCC to reverse the action.
And yesterday at an open meeting, the FCC did just that in a 2-1 vote with Republican Michael O’Rielly joining Pai in the majority and Democrat Mignon Clyburn dissenting.
“Why anyone would want to micro-regulate tiny pro-consumer companies like Ion Media (while simultaneously approving the media consolidation deals you reminded everyone of today) shall remain a mystery to both of us,” the letter says.
With 64.8% coverage, Ion has the greatest reach of any station group. When the FCC eliminated the discount, it grandfathered Ion so that it would not have to spin off stations to get below the 39% cap. However, the FCC said the group could not be sold if it exceeded that cap.
“So, on behalf of our 422 dedicated employees, we thank you for not ‘capping’ our continued ability to serve our nationwide consumers with free over-the-air broadcast television entertainment and information,” the letter says.
“Wishing you much continued success in your tenure, we look forward to working with you on pro-consumer and pro-competitive policies.”