TV and Cross-Ownership Rules Changed

Posted on November 30th, 2017 by

As forecast, the FCC has voted upon and adopted changes to the broadcast ownership rules. You can read all the details here, but the next four paragraphs will give you the short summary.

The Newspaper/Broadcast Cross-Ownership Rule was eliminated, primarily because it was no longer necessary to promote viewpoint diversity and was actually preventing combinations that would enable both broadcasters and newspapers to better serve the public interest.

The Radio/Television Cross-Ownership Rule was eliminated because it was no longer necessary to promote viewpoint diversity in the modern media marketplace.

The Local Television Ownership Rule was modified to eliminate the Eight-Voices Test and to incorporate a case-by-case review option in the Top-Four Prohibition to better reflect the competitive conditions in local markets.

And finally, the attribution rule for television JSAs was eliminated, with the FCC concluding that they are beneficial agreements that serve the public interest by allowing television broadcasters to better serve their local markets.

The FCC also decided not to change the radio ownership limits, which currently restrict a single entity from owning more than eight radio stations in the largest markets, and adopted a rulemaking to figure out the details of an incubator program where established broadcasters can help ease the path of new entrants to the broadcasting industry.

So what’s up next on the broadcast station ownership front? Elimination of the cap on how many Americans a single broadcast television owner can reach through television. You can read the draft notice of proposed rulemaking here. Currently, the FCC will not approve any TV station acquisition if the result would be that the proposed licensee or any attributable individual would collectively own stations that reach more than 39% of the national television audience. The rulemaking will consider changing that, including an examination of the FCC’s authority to do so.