FCC Restricts Same Market TV Joint Sales Agreements; Begins Quadrennial Review of Broadcast Ownership and Attribution Rules

by Davis Wright Tremaine LLP
Contact

At its Open Meeting today, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to issue a Report & Order as well as a Further Notice of Proposed Rule Making (FNPRM) in its required “Quadrennial Review” of its broadcast ownership and attribution rules. The last completed Quadrennial Review was in 2007, since the 2010 Review was never completed. The FCC promised to finish this one by June 30, 2016, meaning that this could be the first Quadrennial Review completed in nearly a decade.

The Report & Order portion of this Quadrennial Review consists of one item: The FCC has decided to treat television (TV) Joint Sales Agreements (JSAs) the same way it treats radio JSAs. This would mean that if a TV station enters into a JSA with a TV station in the same market for more than 15% of that station’s advertising time, the second station would be “attributed” to the first station for purposes of the FCC’s local TV ownership rule. Thus, if the first station could not own the second station under FCC rules, it would also be prohibited from selling more than 15% of that station’s advertising.

Recognizing that there are numerous same market JSAs currently in existence, the FCC has decided to allow a two year transition period for unwinding those agreements. The FCC also said that it would entertain petitions for waiver of this rule, although it is unclear what situations would qualify for waiver. Among the potential waiver possibilities mentioned are those where a JSA would allow a college or university to own a local TV station or where the second station is a small or failing station that needs assistance. The FCC said it would be more inclined to grant waivers for JSAs that are limited in time rather than open ended.

Chances are good that this action will be subject to judicial review but it is uncertain whether that will lead to a stay of the prohibition pending such review.

The remainder of the Quadrennial Review is in the form of an FNPRM, meaning it consists of proposals but no concrete action as of yet. One of these proposals concerns Shared Services Agreements or SSAs, whereby stations share staff and/or facilities. Although TV JSAs will be prohibited by the Report & Order portion of today’s action, the FCC is proposing only to take a closer look at SSAs. Because SSAs have not previously been subject to disclosure, the FCC claims not to have enough information to make a determination on what, if anything, to do about them. Accordingly, the FCC proposes to both define SSAs and to require disclosure of SSAs so that a future determination can be made on whether or not to limit or prohibit them.

Other proposals announced in today’s FNPRM include keeping the local TV and radio ownership limits essentially the same as they are now. For TV, this means no more than two TV stations per Designated Market Area (DMA), so long as the two stations do not have overlapping contours or if no more than one of the two stations is a “top four” station in the market and there would be at least eight independently owned TV stations remaining in the market post-merger. The local radio ownership rules allow a sliding number of stations to be owned in a single DMA based on the total number of radio stations in the market.

In a highly contested part of the FNPRM, the FCC proposes to eliminate the radio/newspaper cross ownership ban, but to retain the TV/newspaper cross-ownership ban. The FCC says it will consider granting waivers of the TV/newspaper cross-ownership ban if the TV station is not one of the top four TV stations in the market and if there would be at least eight independently owned media sources following the merger. As one Commissioner remarked, it is questionable whether newspapers will become extinct before the newspaper/broadcast cross-ownership rule is eliminated.

The FCC also proposes to retain both the TV/radio cross-ownership limits as well as the dual network rule that prohibits a merger among two of the top four networks (ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox).

Despite vigorous dissents to today’s action by Commissioners Pai and O’Rielly, the FCC voted 3-2 to adopt the Report & Order and FNPRM as described above. We will keep you advised of comment dates for those who wish to file comments on any of the FNPRM proposals discussed above.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Davis Wright Tremaine LLP | Attorney Advertising

Written by:

Davis Wright Tremaine LLP
Contact
more
less

Davis Wright Tremaine LLP on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):
hide

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.

Security

JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at info@jdsupra.com. In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at: info@jdsupra.com.

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.