NAB Files Comments Against Reconsideration Of Ownership Rules
May 6, 2008 at 2:52 PM (PT)
The NAB has filed comments opposing the petition for reconsideration of the FCC's ownership rules review, including the loosening of cross-ownership rules.
"There is no reason for the Commission to retreat from its recent modest revisions to the outmoded newspaper cross-ownership prohibition, which had not been reformed since its adoption in 1975," writes the NAB. "Claims in the petition that the 'exceptions' could 'swallow' the revised rule and somehow harm the public interest are unmeritorious. Under the revised rules, applicants will in fact have a high hurdle to gain approval for proposed newspaper/broadcast combinations (especially newspaper/television combinations) outside the top 20 Designated Market Areas. Nor are the standards for rebutting the negative presumption against newspaper/broadcast combinations in non-top 20 DMAs vague or otherwise insufficient to hold applicants accountable for their representations made while seeking approval of such combinations, as petitioners contend.
... the record in this proceeding demonstrates the benefits to local audiences and to stations from common ownership.
"Relaxation of the outdated newspaper cross-ownership ban is clearly supported by the record in the lengthy quadrennial ownership proceeding, and modifying the rule is consistent with judicial affirmation of the FCC’s 2003 determination that the ban was no longer in the public interest. (citation omitted) In fact, the voluminous record in this proceeding would have supported a more extensive revision of the newspaper cross-ownership restriction, given the public interest benefits derived from such cross-ownership. There is certainly no reason for the Commission to now cut back on the very limited reform of the ban that it recently approved."
The NAB adds, "petitioners have not made any case for cutting back on the current levels of local station ownership because they have not shown the existence of any specific public interest harms resulting from existing duopolies. Clearly they have not done so because the record in this proceeding demonstrates the benefits to local audiences and to stations from common ownership."
And on radio, the NAB says, "there is no basis for the Commission to cut back on the levels of common ownership of radio stations that Congress set over a decade ago in a less competitive and diverse marketplace. Congress acted in the 1990s against a backdrop of financial crisis in the radio industry, and the changes in ownership structure made possible by the 1996 Telecommunications Act have enabled radio owners to achieve significant efficiencies and financial stability, thereby allowing stations to serve their local communities more effectively. In declining to roll back the radio ownership levels in its quadrennial review decision, the Commission correctly recognized that requiring station divestitures would undermine settled expectations in a market where broadcasters needed regulatory relief to achieve the economies of scale necessary to compete just ten years ago. The petition provides no basis for the Commission to change its decision now."
Read the entire filing by clicking here.