01.02.2003 12:00 AM
NAB Makes its Case for Revised Ownership Rules to the FCC
Describing the current media landscape as a "sea of competition," the NAB told the FCC this week that increasing competition from cable, satellite and the Internet along with the growth in diversity of programming are reasons enough to revise media ownership regulations.

The association filed its comments to the FCC in response to the commission's review of the rules, initiated last fall. The commission is expected to relax a number of media ownership rules that would allow television broadcasters to consolidate and own more than two stations in a single market.

NAB cited the increase in technology advancements and broadcast outlets over the past several decades as just one reason for adjusting the rules.

"Consumers in local markets of all sizes now have access to a vast array of broadcast and nonbroadcast media outlets," NAB said. In addition, "traditional broadcasters no longer enjoy their preeminent position in the media marketplace, but according to the Commission, are struggling to maintain their audience and advertising shares." NAB also pointed out that the primary competition-related concern in today's multichannel marketplace is "the continued ability of broadcasters to compete effectively and to offer free, over the air entertainment and informational programming (including local news) to consumers." NAB also told the commission that "numerous studies" have confirmed that the increase in multichannel video and audio programming has resulted in an "exponential" increase in diverse programming.

The association advised the commission from taking a "case by case" approach to reviewing rules warning that doing so would "cause unacceptable administrative uncertainty and delays.

NAB also urged the commission to adopt a "10/10" rule for allowing television duopolies in all DMAs. Under this standard, two stations each with a year-long average 7:00 a.m.-1:00 a.m. viewing share of less than 10 could be commonly owned, and a station with a viewing share of 10 or more could be co-owned with another station with a share of less than 10.

"This reformed rule would provide needed financial relief for struggling lower-rated stations, especially those in medium and small markets, while still promoting diversity and competition by preventing the combination of two higher-rated stations in the same market," NAB said.


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