House Commerce Democrats Want Further GAO Review of TV Sharing Deals
House Commerce Committee Ranking Member Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Communications Subcommittee Ranking Member Mike Doyle (D-PA) want the General Accountability Office to look into the impact of various local broadcaster sharing agreements on competition, localism, and diversity. They have been critical of Sinclair's inclusion of such agreements with stations it is spinning off to secure government approval of its efforts to buy Tribune TV stations, suggesting it is using the agreements to continue to control stations it is supposed to be divesting. As part of the media regulation rollback under Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai, the FCC invalidated the Wheeler-FCC's advice that it would vet shared services agreements (SSAs) under what amounted to strict scrutiny because they could be used as a way to establish de facto control without running afoul of local ownership rules. "These agreements allow one station – typically one with larger market share – to provide services such as news reporting and advertising sales for another typically smaller station," Pallone and Doyle said in announcing the request for GAO to investigate them. "While historically a means for marginal local stations to pool resources, such agreements have been used by Sinclair Broadcast Group in an effort to circumvent media consolidation protections."
House Commerce Democrats Want Further GAO Review of TV Sharing Deals Letter to GAO on Review of TV Sharing Deals (read the letter)