NAB Urges FCC to Delay 2022 Broadcast Ownership Rules Review

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(Image credit: FCC)

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) has written to the FCC asking the commission to temporarily delay its 2022 quadrennial review of the broadcast ownership rules until it finishes the 2018 review. 

The NAB made the proposal in response to the FCC seeking public comments into the 2022 Quadrennial Review. In asking for public comment, the FCC noted that it was starting the 2022 review even though it hadn’t completed the 2018 review

The FCC is required by the Telecommunications Act of 1996 to review ownership rules every four years but hasn’t completed the task since 2014. 

In its filing, the NAB argued that: “Apart from violating a congressional deadline, an incomplete but still pending 2018 review also makes it challenging, if not impossible, for stakeholders to submit useful and relevant comments to inform a distinct 2022 review. NAB accordingly asks the FCC to expeditiously conclude its 2018 proceeding and then move forward with the 2022 review, as Congress intended.”

“More specifically, the Commission has no authority to delay or to forego the 2018 review or to effectively roll that quadrennial review into the required 2022 review,” the NAB asserted. 

The NAB also rejected the FCC’s explanation for proceeding with the 2022. The FCC had  said their was president for starting the 2022 review without completing the 2018 review by arguing that it started the 2014 review even though the 2010 review hadn’t been completed. “But the Public Notice overlooks the Third Circuit’s previous disapproval of that very maneuver in Prometheus III,” the NAB noted. 

The NAB also stressed the urgency of completing the 2018 review. “Since that time, competition in the media and advertising markets has grown quickly and substantially, resulting in increasing dominance by large and unregulated digital platforms,” the filing said. “As multiple courts, including the Supreme Court, have indicated, failure to timely conclude the 2018 quadrennial review is contrary to the FCC’s duties to `regularly reassess' how its ownership rules function to `keep pace' with industry developments and the marketplace, and to `promptly' repeal or modify any unnecessary rules."

“The record in the 2018 proceeding, moreover, is complete and undoubtedly ripe for review,” the filing noted. “Numerous parties, including NAB, spent considerable time, effort, and expense in commenting in Spring 2019 and then submitting supplemental comments and reply comments on September 2 and October 1, 2021, respectively, at the FCC’s request.”

“NAB therefore implores the FCC to finalize the 2018 review by March 31, 2023, and then proceed with the 2022 quadrennial so that review is concluded in at least a somewhat timely fashion, consistent with Section 202(h),” the NAB concluded. 

“Notably, the FCC’s approach here risks turning either the 2018 or the 2022 quadrennial into a pointless and burdensome exercise for stakeholders,” the NAB also noted. “By setting deadlines for interested parties to comment in the 2022 review on the ownership rules as they exist today (i.e., prior to completion of the 2018 review), the Public Notice implies the Commission is not likely to alter those rules as a result of the 2018 quadrennial, when (or if) that review is eventually resolved….Thus, it seems possible, if not probable, that NAB and other stakeholders expended significant time and resources to prepare multiple sets of comments, data, and studies in the 2018 proceeding for no real purpose.”

George Winslow

George Winslow is the senior content producer for TV Tech. He has written about the television, media and technology industries for nearly 30 years for such publications as Broadcasting & Cable, Multichannel News and TV Tech. Over the years, he has edited a number of magazines, including Multichannel News International and World Screen, and moderated panels at such major industry events as NAB and MIP TV. He has published two books and dozens of encyclopedia articles on such subjects as the media, New York City history and economics.