NAB Asks FCC (Again) For Looser Ownership Rules
October 23, 2006 at 12:16 PM (PT)
As the comments period comes to a close for the FCC's ownership rules review, the NAB gets its comments in, and they reiterate the organization's position that the rules should be loosened.
"The commission must recognize the continuing proliferation of media outlets accessible to American consumers and the profound impact such proliferation has had on the broadcast industry and the need for continued ownership regulation," the NAB offers. "The commission originally adopted its local broadcast-ownership restrictions decades ago in a very different media environment.
"Technological advancements, the growth of multichannel video and audio outlets and the Internet, and an expansion in the number of broadcast outlets in the past several decades have altered the media marketplace in two fundamental ways. First, consumers nationally and in local markets of all sizes now have access to a vast array of information and entertainment from broadcast and nonbroadcast outlets.... Second, due to this explosion of outlets, as the commission found even four years ago, traditional broadcasters are struggling to maintain their audience and advertising shares 'in a sea of competition.'
"In light of these technological and marketplace developments, the commission must seriously consider whether the current broadcast-ownership rules continue to serve the agency’s stated goals of competition, diversity and localism. NAB believes that they do not."
The comments point out how broadcasters cannot exercise "undue market power" in a multichannel marketplace "dominated by consolidated cable and satellite system operators" and claims that the existing ownership rules are not necessary to promote diverse content with the proliferation of new video and audio options. Regarding localism, the NAB says, "If the commission seeks to maintain a system of viable commercial broadcast stations offering free, over-the-air service to local communities, then stations must be allowed to form efficient and financially sustainable ownership structures."
The NAB asks the FCC to "further liberal[ize] local radio-ownership limits," noting that satellite and Internet radio competition has increased exponentially and "past changes in ownership structures have enhanced local stations’ abilities to serve diverse audiences and their communities, without resulting in the exercise of undue market power by radio groups...." And the NAB repeats its position that newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership rules should be eliminated because "the ban inhibits the development of new innovative media services, especially online and digital services, and precludes struggling broadcast and newspaper entities, particularly those in smaller markets, from joining together to improve, or at least maintain, existing local news operations."