NAB Pushes for Greater Relaxation of Media Ownership Rules

March 6, 2012

Washington - Mar 6, 2012 - In comments filed with the FCC in the agency's ongoing media ownership rules (MB Dockets 09-182 and 07-294), the National Association of Broadcasters says the FCC must adopt far more significant reforms than those proposed in the pending notice of proposed rulemaking.

According to the NAB, the rules under review distort competition in the marketplace and place broadcasters at a severe disadvantage. The association goes on to saythat the rules limit broadcasters' ability to respond to market forces, as cable, satellite and Internet-based media outlets proliferate and compete for audiences and advertising revenues without comparable restrictions. As a result of the market imbalance created by the rules, many broadcast stations struggle to maintain their economic vibrancy and a strong presence in local communities. The NAB says relaxation or repeal of the current broadcast ownership rules will promote the FCC's goals of competition, diversity and localism.

For local radio ownership, the NAB believes the Commission should continue the deregulatory process begun by Congress in 1996 by saying the current local radio ownership rules cannot be justified under the Rules and no longer serve the FCC's policy goals. The NAB says consumers have numerous choices in audio programming providers and sources, and the record in this proceeding demonstrates that reform of the local radio rules not only would enhance broadcasters' ability to compete in today's marketplace, but also would promote continued diversification of programming and service to local listeners, including niche audiences. The NAB submits that eliminating the AM/FM subcaps would provide greater flexibility in radio ownership without increasing the number of stations owned by any single entity.

The NAB also submits that the Commission should repeal the newspaper/broadcast cross-ownership restrictions, saying that the assumed harms from common ownership of newspaper and broadcast facilities cannot be proven and that increased cross-ownership produces substantial public interest benefits, as broadcast outlets and newspapers are able to achieve increased efficiencies and devote more resources to serving their local communities.

The NAB supports the FCC's proposal to eliminate the radio/television cross-ownership rule saying it will level the playing field between local broadcast stations and multichannel video and audio distributors. It says a number of studies demonstrate that increased cross-ownership of radio and television stations furthers localism through additional air-time devoted to news and increases in public affairs coverage.

On diversity of ownership, the NAB supports the adoption of incentive-based means of promoting ownership of broadcast outlets by minorities, women and small businesses. The NAB believes incentive-based methods, such as tax incentives, waiver/exception programs, establishment of reversionary rights for certain sales, and subchannel licensing programs will be effective in enhancing ownership opportunities for these groups, without restricting broadcast ownership in ways that disadvantage all broadcasters.

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