Pelosi, Pallone: Don’t Restore UHF Discount

The two House Democrats tell FCC Chairman Pai that restoring the UHF discount would further concentrate station ownership. They also say take a shot at Sinclair Broadcast Group.

Today, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi and Energy & Commerce Committee Ranking Member Frank Pallone Jr. have written to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai in advance of a vote tomorrow, urging the FCC not to restore the UHF discount, which they describe as a “loophole” that would further concentrate television station ownership and raise cable costs for consumers.

“We are writing our very serious concerns about the upcoming vote to restore the UHF discount loophole and the negative impact that would have on consumers,” Pelosi and Pallone wrote.  “There is no justification for the FCC to restore the UHF loophole.

“We are concerned, in part, because of press accounts that Sinclair is waiting for the UHF loophole to be restored so it can buy Tribune Broadcasting’s stations,” Pelosi and Pallone continue in the letter. “That would be bad news for consumers in Tribune’s markets in two ways: first, consumers would lose an independent voice in their media market; and second, consumers could see their cable bills go up because Sinclair charges cable operators more than Tribune for retransmission consent.”

The full text of the letter can be found here.

Comments (8)

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Mike Henry says:

April 19, 2017 at 4:45 pm

Ajit Pai said when the UHF Discount was removed under Tom Wheeler’s chairmanship that Wheeler didn’t realize the public interest benefits to the discount. The reality is I don’t think Pai sees — or wants to see — the public interest downsides that reinstating it does, especially since he fails to realize that consolidation would result in the loss of news programming on some stations (read many Fox and CW affiliates) because the LMA/SSA time-brokerage limits haven’t been upped in 21 years, meaning that there could be a lot of news-intensive stations that become a lot less news-intensive if groups that engage in M&A transactions decide to keep conflict stations through LMAs (assuming the Justice Department doesn’t intervene in many of those instances).

Unfortunately, Pallone and Pelosi’s letter means nothing, because with the political climate right now, do you really think Pai even cares about what the two Democrats think? Unless the major cable companies (i.e., the ones not part of the American Cable Association) force their hand and tell Pai to vote against reinstating the discount, since the FCC is two commissioners short and only one is on the side against reinstatement, it’ll be a miracle if it doesn’t happen.

Shenee Howard says:

April 19, 2017 at 5:49 pm

There is no reason for the discount in the age of cable penetration and digital broadcasting. The technical deficiences do not exist today. This is about greed among major GOP donors like the Smith family.

    Mike Henry says:

    April 19, 2017 at 6:03 pm

    No, this is just about greed in general, because not every station group CEO that’ll benefit from loosening of the ownership rules is a GOP donor.

    John Livingston says:

    April 20, 2017 at 12:31 am

    You clearly don’t know what the free market is and are clueless on this issue UHF discount is good for free market Wheeler was wrong and broke the rules by getting rid of the UHF discount. And it isn’t about greed either it’s business and that is a good thing for the public which you don’t get.

Cheryl Thorne says:

April 19, 2017 at 9:02 pm

Is anyone going to seriously listen to anything Nancy Pelosi spews….Seriously..Is someone kidding us here??

    John Livingston says:

    April 20, 2017 at 12:28 am

    I wouldn’t listen to Nancy Poison and I would call her a liar to her face since she lies to the media and on the house floor.

John Livingston says:

April 20, 2017 at 12:34 am

Nancy & Frank are clearly wrong and don’t know what there talking about TV mergers have been happening since TV began in the 40’s that isn’t going to change. There will always be TV station groups that will keep growing and TV Station Groups that will be no more when mergers happen it’s just business but Nancy & Frank don’t get there claims are baseless without merit and are flat out lies.

    Hugh Haynie says:

    April 20, 2017 at 9:51 am

    Man.. you have destroyed this comment section. Nonsensical, horrible grammar, and way too many replies. You should use Creed Thoughts.

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