Skip to main content

Kentucky Senator Introduces Bill to Repeal Broadcast Ownership Limits

U.S. Capitol
(Image credit: Future)

WASHINGTON—Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), has introduced a bill that, if passed, would repeal all broadcast ownership limits. The draft bill, titled the “Local News and Broadcast Media Preservation Act (opens in new tab),” moves to abolish local radio and television ownership rules; all in the name of helping broadcasters better compete with Big Tech.

According to a press release introducing Paul’s bill (opens in new tab), this proposed legislation “would give local broadcasters and newspapers much-needed relief from outdated government restrictions that are currently threatening their ability to succeed in an evolving media environment.”

In the release, Paul said his bill would exempt print, broadcast and digital news organizations from federal antitrust laws and authorities, such as the Department of Justice, to allow them to compete and negotiate with national tech companies. Further, he said the legislation would allow local broadcast companies to merge without government interference, which would “allow those broadcasters to better compete against these tech giants.”

Of course, being introduced so late in the congressional session with no other declared political support, the bill has little chance of becoming law in this session of Congress, notes the Broadcast Law Blog (opens in new tab) and Broadcasting & Cable (opens in new tab). It’s also worth remembering that movement in the legislative branch continues to be stifled due to an ongoing political gridlock as the FCC continues its work with a 2-2 partisan split and the Gigi Sohn nomination remains stalled (opens in new tab).

This battle for deregulation, however, is not a new one. Paul’s bill includes a component that is similar to the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act (opens in new tab) (JCPA) draft — which was passed by the Senate’s Judiciary Committee Sept. 22 — though the latter doesn’t have the sweeping deregulatory scope.

First introduced in 2021, if adopted, JCPA would create a “four-year safe harbor” from antitrust laws for print, broadcast or digital news companies to collectively negotiate with online content distributors (e.g., social media companies) regarding the terms on which the news companies’ content may be distributed by online content distributors.

As JCPA is set to advance to the Senate floor, NAB President and CEO Curtis LeGeyt released the following statement: “In today’s media landscape, local news outlets are at the mercy of a handful of Big Tech gatekeepers that dictate the terms by which their content appears online. This legislation would level the playing field by enabling fair negotiations between news publishers and dominant digital platforms for the market value of their local content.”

This article originally appeared on TV Tech sister brand Radio World

Elle Kehres is a content producer for Radio World with a background spanning radio, television and print. She graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill with a degree in broadcast journalism. Before coming to Radio World, she was the assistant news director at a hyperlocal, award-winning radio station in North Carolina.