The FCC meeting yesterday proposed to attribute Joint Sales Agreements (making them “count” for multiple ownership purposes – meaning that one broadcaster can’t do a JSA with another station unless it can own the other station). The Commission also apparently kicked the can down the road on all other multiple ownership matters – not changing the local TV ownership rules or amending the newspaper broadcast cross-ownership restrictions, instead deciding to further consider any modification of the rules. No decision on these issues is expected until probably 2016. See the FCC’s Public Notice of that action here. Shared Services Agreements will also be examined – though new ones have effectively been put on hold during the course of the examination by an FCC processing policy released two weeks ago that requires that any party proposing any sort of sharing agreement in a transaction requiring FCC approval demonstrate how that sharing agreement serves the public interest. Also at the meeting, the FCC took actions to ban joint negotiation of retransmission consent fees by any two of the top 4 rated stations in a TV market, and to reexamine the network nonduplication and syndicated exclusivity rules (see the FCC’s decision here). While we will have more details on these decisions in the coming days, as we fully analyze the texts of the FCC decisions as they are released, for now it is interesting to look at these decisions with the perspective of history.
Having represented broadcasters in Washington for over 30 years, one sees many of the same issues debated over and over again. Many of the issues that were thought to be settled years ago come to the fore after most of the participants at the FCC, and even those in industry, forget that these battles had already been fought and seemingly decided. In introducing the FCC’s examination of Shared Services Agreements at yesterday’s meeting, the representative of the FCC’s Media Bureau talked about how the examination of each transaction will be important for the FCC to determine if there are too many interlocking ties between stations that are supposed to be competitors in a market. Not mentioned was the fact that this same kind of review used to be done by the FCC under what was called the “cross-interest policy,” a policy that was repealed by the FCC in 1988.
Continue Reading FCC Attributes JSAs, to Examine SSAs and Network Nonduplication and Syndex Rules – A Return to the 1980s?