Trump FCC deregulation threatens local broadcasting

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"There is no other industry in the world like broadcasting,” the CEO of the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Gordon Smith told his annual convention. “No other industry has, at its core, such an overarching focus on bringing communities together and serving the public good,” Smith opined. “No other media industry is as dedicated to supporting our local communities.” That “overarching focus” on “serving the public good” is being stealthily watered down, with the industry’s support, by the Trump Federal Communications Commission. In little-noticed decisions, the agency has been removing regulatory requirements to protect broadcast localism, shield a diversity of local voices, and avoid the establishment of a dominant national broadcaster.

Exhibit One: imagine broadcast localism without a local broadcast studio. The Trump FCC, voting along party lines, is now preparing to eliminate this “fundamental” part of a licensee’s local community obligation.
Exhibit Two: skirting Congress’ mandate that no single broadcaster have more than 39 percent of the national audience.
Exhibit Three: using contracts to get around local ownership rules.
In short, the Trump FCC has set the stage for a dramatic overhaul of the national landscape. It took no time for one company to seize the opportunity.

Sinclair Broadcast Group, owner of more TV stations than anyone else and a Trump election ally, quickly embraced the new reality. It now appears that broadcast localism, a diversity of local voices, and the congressional mandate against one company dominating local broadcasting are about to become casualties of the Trump FCC.

[Tom Wheeler is the former Chairman to the Federal Communications Commission]

Trump FCC deregulation threatens local broadcasting