NABOB Offers FCC An SSA Compromise

The National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters suggests that rather than outlawing all JSAs and SSA, the FCC should let stations restructure them to guarantee that the operated stations would eventually be transferred to a minority owner or otherwise serve the public interest. If so, they would be given a waiver to operate for some longer period of time, say five years.

The National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters has urged the FCC to tweak agency TV station policies to permit some TV station sharing agreements to continue, at least temporarily—and only if those combinations promote minority ownership or some other agency public interest goals.

Under the concept, new joint sales or other shared services agreements between TV stations would generally be outlawed — and existing ones would be forced to unwind “over a much shorter period of  time,” according to a lobbying disclosure report NABOB filed at the FCC.

But JSAs and SSAs that restructured to guarantee that the operated stations would eventually be transferred to a minority owner or otherwise serve the public interest could get a waiver to operate for some longer period of time, say five years, NABOB said in the filing.

As pitched by NABOB, the FCC would review the station sharing arrangements annually. “If the annual reporting failed to demonstrate that the licensee was making progress toward operating the station, the commission could order an early termination of the JSA or SSA,” NABOB wrote. “In any event, whether the licensee had fully obtained the ability to operate the station over the five-year period, the JSA or SSA would terminate at the end of that period.”

According to the lobbying disclosure report, James Winston, NABOB executive director and general counsel, pitched the proposal to FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn during a meeting on Feb. 26. Clyburn, a Democrat, is generally perceived to be the swing vote at the agency over a proposal being promoted by FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler to slam the door on JSAs — as soon as the FCC’s March 31 meeting.

Also according to the filing, NABOB had previously opposed JSAs and SSAs altogether, on grounds that they “appeared to be mere gimmicks for group licensees to avoid the intent of the local ownership rules.”


Nonetheless, Winston said that two of the three full-power TV stations currently licensed to African Americans in the U.S. are being operated under JSA and SSA agreements.

“Given the precipitous fall-off of African-American television ownership in the past few years, and the accelerating pace of consolidation that has roiled the television industry in recent months, there is no reason to be optimistic that the number of African-American owned television stations is going to appreciably increase in the near future without some serious rethinking of the commission’s policies.”

NAB spokesman Dennis Wharton said of the proposal: “”NAB has documented numerous examples to the FCC of JSAs that benefit the public interest, improve local news, and provide badly needed competition to pay TV giants. NABOB deserves credit for coming up with another creative idea that could enhance TV ownership diversity in broadcasting. We think this idea merits serious consideration.”

Neither Winston nor Clyburn could immediately be reached for comment.

Comments (6)

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Don Thompson says:

March 3, 2014 at 7:21 pm

According to this story, the U.S. has exactly ZERO black-owned & operated full-power TV stations.

    Wagner Pereira says:

    March 3, 2014 at 7:48 pm

    I can only laugh when i read a comment (or story) that states this. Most every Broadcast Group is public and shares are publicly traded. There ARE Black Shareholders, so EVERY publicly owned Broadcast Company has Minority Owners. By the same standard, there are no white owned full power tv stations in the US. So what? Last I remember, Dr. King wanted people not to be judged by the color of their skin. Seems people continue to want to move away from that defining principal.

    Philip McLeod says:

    March 6, 2014 at 11:02 am

    I guess they never heard of Cathy Hughes – she owns several.

Don Thompson says:

March 4, 2014 at 8:13 am

Dear Insider, The only thing you proved is that you probably were uninvolved in selecting NABOB’s name. T

    Wagner Pereira says:

    March 4, 2014 at 11:56 am

    Gosh Ted. Why didn’t TWC sale to a Minority? Are there any Minority owned Cable Systems based on your definition?

Wagner Pereira says:

March 4, 2014 at 11:56 am