The FCC’s Public Notice soliciting updated information in its Quadrennial Review of its broadcast ownership rules, a review begun in 2018, was published in the Federal Register today, setting the deadline for initial comments as Monday, August 2, 2021, with reply comments due Monday, August 30, 2021. As we wrote here when the Quadrennial Review began, the principal focus of this review is on radio ownership. But it also includes questions including whether to do away with the dual network rule prohibiting the common ownership of two of the top 4 TV networks, and whether to adopt specific criteria to govern when ownership combinations of two of the Top 4 TV stations in any market will be allowed (the review is a case-by-case review now).
The updated comments are to address changes in the marketplace since the initial comments were filed in 2019 (see our post here on the FCC’s Public Notice requesting the comments). The 2018 proceeding was stalled while issues about the FCC’s prior review of the broadcast ownership rules – issues that challenged the weight and analysis that the FCC gave to the effect of changes to ownership rules on ownership diversity – were litigated through the courts. That litigation ended with the Supreme Court decision earlier this year reinstating the FCC’s 2017 decision to relax certain ownership rules, including the abolition of the newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership rule and the rule that required eight independent TV operators in a market before one party could own two TV stations in that market. Now parties who have waited along time for consideration of changes to the radio ownership rules (see our articles on some of the considerations in the possible changes to those rules here and here) will have their opportunity to file new arguments about those changes – but don’t expect any quick action on these changes, particularly without a full complement of Commissioners on the FCC. If you have something to say on the issues, file your comments on the Quadrennial Review by the now-established August 2 deadline.