Kentucky Senator Rand Paul has introduced a bill to repeal all broadcast ownership limitations including the radio and television local ownership rules (see the draft bill, the Local News and Broadcast Media Preservation Act, here, and the Senator’s press release, here). As we have noted before (see, for instance, our article here), the FCC is currently considering changes to the radio ownership rules but the proposals, first advanced in late 2018, remain stalled in the current FCC seemingly because of its current political deadlock with two Republicans and two Democrats. The current pending proposal at the FCC (see our summary here) is also considering allowing combinations of two of the top 4 TV stations in a market based on certain defined parameters (such combinations being allowed now only when justified based on an ill-defined case by case public interest analysis). The Paul legislation would essentially pre-empt this review by abolishing the FCC’s ownership rules. Of course, being introduced so late in the Congressional session with no other declared political support, the bill has little chance of becoming law in this session of Congress.
The Paul legislation is designed to allow broadcasters to compete with big tech companies that have seriously eroded the advertising and audience shares of broadcast stations over the last decade (see our article here). According to Paul’s press release, his bill “would give local broadcasters and newspapers much-needed relief from outdated government restrictions that are currently threatening their ability to succeed in an evolving media environment.” As the broadcast media is the only media subject to such ownership restrictions, many have argued that, for a truly level playing field in today’s media landscape, a significant relaxation of the rules is warranted.
Continue Reading Senator Rand Paul Introduces Bill to Repeal Broadcast Ownership Limits and Allow Joint Negotiations with Big Tech Companies