House Panel Looks At Broadcast Ownership Rules
September 25, 2015 at 7:56 AM (PT)
The House Communications and Technology Subcommittee held a hearing on "Broadcasting Ownership in the 21st Century" TODAY (9/25). Among the witnesses was COVINGTON AND BURLING LLP attorney GERRY WALDRON (representing the NAB), the MMTC's KIM KEENAN, the NEWSPAPER ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA's PAUL BOYLE, DIGITAL CONTENT NEXT's JASON KINT, COMMON CAUSE's TODD O'BOYLE, and the NATIONAL HISPANIC MEDIA COALITION's MICHAEL SCURATO.
WALDRON's testimony contended that in light of the FCC's goals of competition, localism, and diversity of voices, the current ownership rules "fail to advance any of those objectives." He said that the rules "actually inhibit, rather than promote, broadcasters’ ability to compete in a vibrant video marketplace," that the rules "undermine broadcasters’ uniquely local focus," and that they "fail to promote diversity." He called the rules "simply out of touch with the reality of today’s media landscape ... today, broadcasters’ main competition for advertising dollars comes from companies such as GOOGLE and FACEBOOK, the newly merged AT&T/DIRECTV and cable companies like the soon to be merged TIME WARNER ... the FCC’s rules pretend this competition does not exist."
On localism, WALDRON said that "the broadcast ownership rules act to inhibit broadcasters’ ability to serve this basic responsibility by limiting investment and synergies that could otherwise fuel locally-focused programming"; on diversity, he said that the NAB supports the reinstatement of tax certificates.
COMMON CAUSE's O'BOYLE said that the rules should not be loosened and focused on joint sales agreements in television, warning that reversing the recent crackdown on JSAs "would be a staggering step backwards and foreclose future pro-local, pro-diversity policies."