NAB Challenges FCC’s Tough SSA Criteria

It asks the appeals court in Washington to overturn the FCC’s new "processing guidelines" for TV station applications proposing sharing arrangements and contingent financial interests, calling their adoption "arbitrary [and] capricious."

The NAB made good on its earlier threat, today asking the U.S. Court of Appeal in Washington to stop the FCC from using strict new criteria for evaluating shared services agreements (SSAs) in its review of TV station transactions.

The criteria, issued in a March 12 public notice by the FCC staff without a vote of the full commission, constitute a “categorical presumption against” deals involving SSAs and financial arrangements between stations in the same markets.

The presumption “operates as a practical prohibition” against deals that were previously deemed to be “legitimate,” the NAB said in its petition.

The NAB said the FCC’s action violates the notice and comment requirements of the Administrative Procedures Act, is “arbitrary, capricious” and oversteps the staff’s delegated authority.

The public notice is part of the FCC’s effort to close loopholes that have allowed broadcasters to operate two stations in small and medium markets where the FCC rules they may not outright own them.

Under an SSA, stations in the same market shares facilities, programming and services.


Last month, the FCC, by a 3-2 voted, effectively banned joint sales agreements, which often complement SSAs. Under a JSA (joint service agreement), one station in a market sells the advertising time for another in the same market.

In a letter to the FCC, the NAB two weeks ago warned that it would take action against the agency if it did not cease using the new guideless by May 8.

Comments (2)

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Brian Bussey says:

May 12, 2014 at 4:23 pm

The NRA of rabbit ears is in full effect. No disrespect to the NRA becasue the NRA would have never allowed the utilities to wedge into their business in the first place.

    Wagner Pereira says:

    May 12, 2014 at 9:52 pm

    And the NRA and NAB can both spell….