The trade group tells the commission that its new approach to service agreements is "arbitrary and capricious" and it should stop by May 8.
NAB Wants FCC To Reverse Course On SSAs
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.”