11.08.2004 10:25 AM
NAB fights FCC localism initiative

The NAB has flexed its lobbying muscle to oppose the FCC’s inquiry on broadcast localism.

It claims new public service obligations on television broadcasters would be “inconsistent with Congress’ expressed purpose for the 1996 Telecommunications Act, which calls for a pro-competitive, de-regulatory telecommunications policy framework.

The FCC’s notice demonstrates a lack of appreciation for the current economic and financial circumstances surrounding broadcasting, the NAB contends.

The NAB said the marketplace incentives created by competition from cable, satellite and others, have forced broadcasters to diligently serve the needs and interests of their local communities just to maintain their existing audience, as well as develop innovate new services that may expand their audience. Given these circumstances, the NAB said it believes that the notice’s focus on imposing new obligations on broadcasters is neither justified nor prudent.

The NAB argued that broadcasters already go to great lengths to determine the needs and interests of their local community, and deliver programming to serve those needs and interests. This is done, not in response to some government mandate, but as a matter of survival, according to the NAB filing.

As to the anticipated move that would require broadcasters to air a minimum amount of political programming, the NAB said any such move would exceed the FCC’s statutory authority and raise serious Constitutional issues.

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