NAB to FCC: Current Ownership Rules Put Broadcasters at ‘Severe Disadvantage’
March 6, 2012
WASHINGTON: The FCC needs to adopt more significant ownership reforms
than current proposals, the National Association of Broadcasters told the FCC
association made its comments in response to the FCC’s quadrennial review of
ownership rules. Specifically the NAB wants the commission to repeal or
relax its ownerships rules to promote the commission’s goals of competition,
diversity and localism.
“The rules under review here distort competition in the
marketplace and place broadcasters at a severe disadvantage,” the NAB told the
FCC. “The rules limit broadcasters’ ability to respond to market forces, as
cable, satellite and Internet-based media outlets proliferate and compete for
audiences and advertising revenues without comparable restrictions. As a result
of the market imbalance created by the rules, many broadcast stations struggle
to maintain their economic vibrancy and a strong presence in local
The NAB asked the commission to relax local television
ownership rules to permit duopolies more freely in all market sizes, citing
competitive pressure in small to medium markets that has led to smaller
audience share and reduced advertising revenues. “Relaxation of the duopoly
rule will enhance stations’ abilities to cope with these changes, maintain
their competitive standing and permit them to continue serving their local
audiences, the NAB said. The association also asked that duopoly rules should
not be altered in such a way to diminish “the public benefits of multicasting,”
saying such services foster the FCC’s goals of diversity and enhanced services.
Newspaper/broadcast cross ownership rules should be
scrapped, the NAB said, because there is no evidence that any communities have
been harmed by common ownership of the two media. Increased cross ownership
actually helps local media outlets enhance their news production capabilities,
thereby helping communities, the NAB told the commission.
The NAB also urged the commission to avoid further
regulation (“attribution”) of sharing agreements, which the association said
“advance the FCC’s localism and diversity goals by facilitating the provision
of local news and other programming.” NAB also said the FCC should not connect
sharing agreements with retransmission negotiations. “Such negotiations are
irrelevant to the attribution regime because they do not implicate a station’s
core operating functions and, in any event, are the subject of another pending
In addition to its FCC comments, the NAB has also asked the Supreme Court to review station
NAB’s comments in full are available here;
the FCC’s NPRM is available here.
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