05.08.2008 03:45 PM
Originally featured on BroadcastEngineering.com
NAB urges FCC to stand by new, less-restrictive ownership rules

The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) told the FCC Tuesday it should not retreat from changes it made in its quadrennial ownership review order to ease restrictions on cross-ownership of broadcast outlets and daily newspapers in the same market.

In mid-December 2007, the commission voted 3-2 along party lines to relax restrictions on cross-ownership of daily newspapers and broadcast outlets. Members of both the House and Senate have objected to the change. The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation committee in April voted to rescind the rule.

In its filing opposing a petition to reconsider, the NAB told the commission there is no merit to the argument that provisions for exceptions to new less-restrictive rules could “‘swallow’ the revised rule” effectively broadening its reach to smaller markets.

“Under the revised rules, applicants will in fact have a high hurdle to gain approval for proposed newspaper/broadcast combinations (especially newspaper/television combinations) outside the top 20 designated market areas,” the filing said.

The NAB filing also refuted the assertion that the DTV transition is reason to place greater restrictions on TV ownership in local markets. Saying the argument is “nonsensical,” the petition contended that the ability to transmit additional channels in allotted bandwidth is not the same “as owning an entirely new station with statutory must-carry rights.”

Those seeking reconsideration also have not effectively made the case for cutting back on current levels of local station ownership because they have not shown “any specific public interest harms” resulting from the duopolies that currently exist. According to the NAB, the record in the ownership proceeding actually indicates the public interest would be better served by loosening duopoly restrictions further.

To read the filing in its entirety, visit http://www.nab.org/xert/corpcomm/pressrel/releases/050608_ownership.pdf.

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