More Comments Filed In FCC Quadrennial Ownership Rules Review
August 7, 2014 at 3:59 AM (PT)
The FCC fielded more comments in the 2014 Quadrennial Rules Review docket WEDNESDAY (8/6), including filings from major TV networks, station owners, and other groups.
Among the filings, CONNOISSEUR MEDIA noted that "The radio market has changed drastically since the 1996" rules and that "for the Commission to conclude that the radio market is the same as it was 20 years ago, and that no adjustments to the ownership limits are required, is to simply ignore reality." It asked for a rules change or waiver to address anomalies in the way embedded markets are treated for ownership cap purposes to exclude stations in the larger "parent" market in the calculation. MID-WEST FAMILY BROADCASTERS asked that ownership in a market consider different classes of stations rather than use market definitions that assign equal treatment to stations regardless of actual coverage.
BONNEVILLE INTERNATIONAL and THE SCRANTON TIMES, L.P. filed joint comments targeting the newspaper/radio cross-ownership restriction, saying that "the record overwhelmingly demonstrates" that the restriction "serves no tangible public interest purpose" because "few radio stations produce a significant amount of local news" and therefore cross-ownership does not result in diminution of news viewpoints. COX MEDIA GROUP asked the Commission to eliminate the newspaper/broadcast cross-ownership rule as well and, in the alternative, to eliminate the radio/newspaper cross-ownership ban and also supported the FCC proposal to use a DMA-based standard for measuring newspaper/television cross-ownership rather than the contour-based standard. And MORRIS COMMUNICATIONS CO. also called for an end to cross-ownership restrictions, citing its own experiences in TOPEKA and AMARILLO as showing the benefits of newspaper/radio cross-ownership.
SAG-AFTRA's comments supported the new restrictions on television joint sales agreements and shared services agreements and opposed the repeal of newspaper/broadcast cross-ownership rules, calling for the latter to instead be strengthened.
NBC's affiliate group specifically proposed to retain the dual network rule that prohibits one company from owning affiliates of two of the "big four" TV networks in one market. CBS's television affiliate group filed identical comments, while RAYCOM MEDIA opposed the "unprecedented expansion of the Commission's regulatory authority" to regulate the transfer of TV network affiliation agreements. FOX went further, saying that it believes that the FCC can "no longer justify regulating ownership of media outlets... time has only served to further undermine any rationale for maintaining these antiquated rules." CBS and FOX incorporated their 2010 filings into the present proceeding, both calling for elimination of all ownership rules.
The NATIONAL HISPANIC MEDIA COALITION called the proposal to abolish the newspaper/radio cross-ownership ban "off base" because, it said radio stations "remain a key source of viewpoint diversity, particularly for the Latino community." The NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF BLACK OWNED BROADCASTERS also criticized the idea of eliminating the newspaper/radio cross-ownership ban and, like the NHMC, called for a study on how the Commission's proposals would impact minority ownership before making any changes in the rules. And the MINORITY MEDIA AND TELECOMMUNICATIONS COUNCIL noted that the Commission's omission of "meaningful discussion" of 23 earlier diversity proposals from the 2006 and 2010 quadrennial reviews have "uncoupled" the diversity discussion from the current review and offered 34 proposals for diversity in ownership.