NAB Wants FCC To Reverse Course On SSAs

The trade group tells the commission that its new approach to service agreements is "arbitrary and capricious" and it should stop by May 8.

In what appears to be a prelude to a court challenge, the NAB has demanded that the FCC by next Thursday (May 8) “cease and desist” from its “strict scrutiny” of shared services agreements (SSAs) that broadcasters have been using, often in tandem with joint sales agreements (JSAs), to operate multiple stations in markets.

The FCC’s handling of SSAs is “arbitrary and capricious,” the NAB said in a letter yesterday to the commission.

At its March 31 meeting, the FCC cracked down on the use of JSAs, but asked for more information about what to do about the complementary SSAs before deciding whether to regulate them.

In the letter, the NAB said the March 31 action conflicts with a public notice the FCC issued two weeks earlier saying that they the agency would begin immediately taking a hard look at SSAs, which, in NAB words, “allow stations to share facilities, provide local news production assistance [and] share administrative and technical personnel.”

Among other things, the FCC said in the public notice it wanted stations proposing SSAs to fully describe them and show that they are “arm’s-length transaction[s] and would not impair the existing licensee’s control over station operations and programming, result in attribution of the relationship, or be otherwise contrary to the public interest.”

In its letter, NAB argues that the public notice constitutes regulation of SSAs without due process and justification.


The public notice is “fatally premature,” the letter says. It “prejudges the pending [SSA] rulemaking and purports to adopt standards that the commission has thus far declined to endorse.”

Comments (6)

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Brian Bussey says:

May 2, 2014 at 9:50 am

how do you afford 20 corporate vp’s at 500 grand each? you hub all the station support staff and lay people off and then you create joint service agreements to double the work for the people you keep. The NAB is doing a fine job of eliminating TV station personnel. The FCC needs to look at “hubs” after JSA’s. Tornado’s a hurricanes dont do hubs.

    Wagner Pereira says:

    May 2, 2014 at 2:45 pm

    Always comical to read the clueless comments of people who are not aware of the actual organizational charts nor have they seen the books.

    Brad Dann says:

    May 2, 2014 at 4:07 pm

    Agreed, it’s always a conspiracy to screw the little guy. When will people realize that it’s a business and the people who run it have a duty to maximize profits.

Maria Black says:

May 2, 2014 at 11:24 am

Maybe the FCC and NAB should go on Jerry Springer and hash this out…

Brad Dann says:

May 2, 2014 at 12:42 pm

About time! The courts will throw out this restriction since they’re not beholden to “public interest” groups, just facts.

Ellen Samrock says:

May 2, 2014 at 1:23 pm

We’re dealing with an administration that has shown a persistent lack of regard for rule of law, established protocol and the property rights of businesses (unless it suits their purpose). So it’s not surprising if Wheeler’s move against JSAs violates the Administrative Procedure Act as the NAB charges. He has been throughly tutored by his boss, enabler and friend.