NAB Unveils Broadcasters’ Policy Agenda for New Congress

(Image credit: NAB)

WASHINGTON—NAB is ready to get to work with the 117th Congress as the organization representing TV and radio broadcasters has unveiled its main policy agenda. Headlining NAB’s Broadcasters’ Policy Agenda are issues surrounding broadcast ownership, spectrum issues, promoting diversity and the preservation of local journalism in the age of big tech.

NAB stressed the importance of broadcasters to the new Congress, detailing its reach, impact on jobs and the overall role of broadcasters as first informers, news reporters and investigators, public servants, innovators (presently with NextGen TV) and, at this particular point in time, a vital lifeline to keep the public informed about COVID-19.

To better meet these roles, NAB highlighted a number of policies it would like to see this new Congress address.

Among them is the issue of broadcast ownership. The FCC is currently in the Supreme Court arguing for new broadcast ownership rules that have been held up because of a decision by the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals. NAB is urging policymakers to support the FCC’s modernization of radio and TV ownership rules, which it says the 1996 Telecommunications Act mandated the FCC do every four years, to reflect the current marketplace and account for the rise and increasing influence of digital media.

The issue of retransmission consent is also part of NAB’s agenda. Negotiations between local TV station providers and pay-TV operators have become increasingly contentious and have led to numerous blackouts of stations each year. NAB believes Congress should ensure broadcasters and pay-TV operators can continue conducting private, market-driven negotiations and avoid tilting the scales in favor of either party.

With the C-band transition progressing, NAB wishes for Congress to ensure that any changes to C-band and 6 GHz spectrum does not impede broadcasters’ ability to deliver critical programming and services to their communities. They also urge policymakers to reject unlicensed spectrum giveaways.

NAB also stresses the importance of increasing broadcast diversity, specifically to creating opportunities for women, people of color and other underrepresented communities. A specific action NAB asks Congress to take in this area is to reinstate the diversity tax certificate.

The preservation of local journalism is also high on NAB’s priority list, especially in this age of big tech. NAB would like Congress to consider the competitive challenges and antitrust concerns raised by digital platforms and their impact on local news and information, specifically by supporting laws and policies that recognize and uphold broadcasters “unique and essential roles” in our democracy as part of the free press.

Other issues on the agenda include opposing legislation that modifies advertising tax laws, as well as music licensing issues.

“America's local radio and television broadcasters stand ready to help our nation overcome the challenges that lie ahead,” said NAB President and CEO Gordon Smith. “ NAB looks forward to working with the new administration and Congress on bipartisan policies to address the crises facing our nation, while helping keep our millions of listeners and viewers informed, safe and connected."

NAB’s Broadcasters’ Policy Agenda (opens in new tab) can be viewed online.