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NAB supports modest changes in ownership rules

Where does the NAB stand on the contentious media ownership rules debate now before the FCC? Eddie Fritts, the broadcaster’s chief lobbyist, reviewed the NAB position in a speech last week at the Media Institute, a Washington, DC-based nonprofit research foundation specializing in communications policy and the First Amendment.

Fritts said the NAB seeks modest changes in the FCC rules, but is in favor of retaining the 35 percent TV ownership cap because it “has been good for localism and diversity” and “has helped preserve the network/affiliate relationship.”

He noted that the NAB has offered a program that would permit duopoly TV combinations in small and medium markets. Under the plan, two stations with viewing shares of less than 10 percent could be co-owned, or one station with a viewing share of 10 or higher could partner with another station with a share of less than 10.

“The FCC has permitted duopolies in large markets, and that has resulted in increases in local news and public affairs programming,” Fritz argued. “With small and medium market TV stations struggling to justify the financial strain of converting to digital, the 10/10 plan would provide a huge economic boost to markets like Boise, ID, and Bangor, ME, and Birmingham, AL.”

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