Originally published: March 6, 2014
Last updated: March 6, 2014 - 8:07pm
Every four years, the Federal Communications Commission is required by law to assess its media ownership rules and determine if they need to be modified to serve the public interest. In fact, it’s been six years since the FCC last completed a quadrennial review, so it goes without saying that the video marketplace has changed dramatically since the FCC last updated these rules. In March 2014, the FCC will begin in earnest its 2014 quadrennial review, building on a record it has amassed over the years. This will be an open evaluation to understand how evolving market structures and competition should influence how we act to preserve the continuing values of competition, localism, and diversity of voices in our local media.
I come to the 2014 review with two bedrock beliefs: that broadcasting provides a vital public service as a part of its public trust, and that the overall changes in the media landscape are opening new opportunities for U.S. broadcasters. While this review is pending, the current rules addressing media consolidation will remain in place. But motivated by evidence that our rules protecting competition, diversity and localism have been circumvented, we will consider some changes to other FCC rules to enforce existing rules.
- Scrutiny of Joint Sales Agreements reveals that the Commission’s attribution rules have failed in their purpose and require a technical adjustment.
- Increasingly, we’ve seen the largest stations in a local broadcast TV market negotiate retransmission fees jointly -- even though they are competitors. This tends to put upward pressure on cable prices. Joint negotiations have been documented to increase prices to cable systems.
The FCC will seek comment on:
- Proposing to retain the current ban on mergers between the four major TV networks, as well as local radio and television ownership rules;
- Proposing to maintain a prohibition on the cross-ownership of newspapers and television stations and seeking comment on whether and how to modify the existing rule; and
- Asking questions about improving the current waiver standards for broadcast ownership.
See additional coverage:
FCC Proposes to Tighten Media Ownership Rules (Revere Digital)
FCC Moves On Retransmission Consent (telecompetitor)
FCC Proposes New Limits on Broadcasters: If You Run It, You Own It (The Wrap)
FCC Takes Aim at TV Joint Sales Deals (AdWeek)
FCC to consider changes to TV market (The Hill)
FCC to consider tougher rules for local TV stations (Los Angeles Times)
FCC proposes curbing TV stations' joint sales agreements (USAToday)
FCC Chairman Wheeler Proposing to Ban Coordinated Retrans Among Top Stations (B&C)
FCC Chairman Wheeler Moves To End Sharing Agreements (TVNewscheck)