FCC Commissioner Pai: JSAs Disproportionately Benefit Women And African-American TV Station Owners
March 20, 2014 at 12:31 PM (PT)
The internal battle continues in the FCC's debate over the pending quadrennial broadcast ownership rules review vote on MARCH 31st, with Commissioner AJIT PAI, who is opposed to Chairman TOM WHEELER's push to restrict Joint Sales Agreements, Shared Services Agreements, and Local Marketing Agreements among television licensees in the same market, releasing research that he says concludes that JSAs disproportionately benefit female and African-American station owners.
PAI's office released a statement alleging that "the Commission currently doesn’t have the basic facts about JSAs. For example, last week (his office) asked how many JSAs there are in the U.S. among television stations and how many television stations owned by women and minorities participate in JSAs. Today, we still don’t have the answers to either of these fundamental questions. To partially fill this gap, the Office investigated whether there is a link between joint sales agreements and ownership diversity. Using publicly available sources, we estimate that:
"43% of female-owned full-power commercial television stations currently are parties to JSAs.
"75% of African-American-owned full-power commercial television stations currently are
parties to JSAs.
“'These findings raise serious questions,' Commissioner PAI said. 'Why is the FCC targeting pro-competitive sharing arrangements that appear to disproportionately benefit female and African-American broadcasters? If the Commission forces broadcasters to terminate JSAs, how will that affect diversity? Why is the FCC rushing to a vote rather than taking the time to gather basic facts and study the effect of its proposal on ownership diversity? The Commission should not accelerate the troubling trend of declining minority ownership.'
"Because the FCC has not systematically collected data on joint sales agreements, the statistics set forth above are estimates. Commissioner PAI commented, 'Before we vote to restrict the use of JSAs, the Commission should conduct a formal study to evaluate whether these figures are accurate and how any action on our part would impact diversity in broadcast ownership. Last year, we delayed a vote on changing our newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership rule so that a study of the proposal’s impact on minority ownership could be completed. The current proposal regarding JSAs should be held to the same standard.'”