FCC Releases Quadrennial Ownership Review Notice And Order
April 15, 2014 at 6:09 PM (PT)
The FCC released its 2014 Quadrennial Regulatory Review Further Notice Of Proposed Rulemaking and Report And Order, adopted at the Commission's MARCH 31st Open Meeting (NET NEWS 3/31), and as expected, no change was made to radio ownership rules but a proposal was floated to eliminate the newspaper-radio and radio-television cross-ownership rules.
The order reads, "Based on the 2010 Quadrennial Review record, we tentatively find that the current local radio ownership rule remains necessary in the public interest and should be retained without modification. We believe that the rule is necessary to promote competition. In addition, we believe that the radio ownership limits promote viewpoint diversity 'by ensuring a sufficient number of independent radio voices and by preserving a market structure that facilitates and encourages new entry into the local media market.'
"Similarly, we tentatively find that a competitive local radio market helps to promote localism, as a competitive marketplace will lead to the selection of programming that is responsive to the needs and interests of the local community. We tentatively find also that the local radio ownership rule is consistent with our goal of promoting minority and female ownership of broadcast television stations. Finally, we believe that these benefits outweigh any burdens that may result from our proposal to retain the rule without modification."
The order notes that broadcasters and the NAB generally favored loosening the ownership limits because of increased non-broadcast audio competition, but the Commission said, "Despite broadcasters’ claims to the contrary, we tentatively find that, for purposes of the Commission’s ownership rules, non-broadcast sources of audio programming are not yet meaningful substitutes for broadcast radio stations with respect to either listeners or advertisers". Public advocacy commenters and MOUNT WILSON FM BROADCASTERS (which told the Commission that the "NAB’s comments reflect the position of group owners at the expense of independent station owners") supported retaining the current rules or tightening them.
The order also includes the controversial restrictions on television joint sales agreements and seeks comment on eliminating newspaper-radio and radio-television cross-ownership rules and whether to return to a revenue-based eligible entity standard. Comments will be due 45 days after publication in the Federal Register, with replies due 75 days after publication.