NAB Files Comments In FCC's Quadrennial Broadcast Ownership Rules Review
March 5, 2012 at 4:35 PM (PT)
The NAB has filed its comments in the FCC's quadrennial broadcast ownership rules proceeding, reiterating the organization's long-standing desire that the current ownership rules be repealed or modified.
Among the NAB's arguments in the 71-page document (plus attachments) are that the present restrictions hamper broadcasters not only in competing with new media in the marketplace but also constrain them in serving local community. Regarding radio ownership rules, the NAB said that the Commission's failure to propose changes "is ... inconsistent with the Commission’s stated intention to 'take account of new technologies and changing marketplace conditions' ... The current local radio ownership restrictions are unnecessary because, even in their absence, local radio stations will do what they have always done -- respond to local listeners."
The filing also asserts that relaxing the rules would enhance diversity as clusters use HD RADIO to target demographics not reached by their analog and HD1 signals, and calls for eliminating the AM/FM subcaps because the FCC's assumption that "AM stations are not competitive" is, the NAB asserts, "not valid."
Also targeted by the NAB's comments is the radio/television cross-ownership rule, which the FCC has proposed to eliminate, a move supported by the NAB. Agreeing that the repeal will not contribute to ownership consolidation and that the rule is not necessary to promote localism or diversity, the NAB wrote, "Elimination of this rule, which primarily serves to limit radio station ownership arbitrarily, will also help level the playing field between local broadcast stations and multichannel video and audio distributors unencumbered by such restrictions."
The NAB also once again asked for relaxation of television duopoly rules and the elimination of the newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership rules. And the NAB proposed incentive-based programs to promote ownership diversity, including allowing sellers to hold reversionary interests in certain situations, instituting a system of waivers and exceptions, and selling broadcast subchannels to qualifying entries.