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Seasons Greetings for FCC Ownership Rules



Believe it or not, the FCC has not resolved its 2018 Quadrennial Review concerning several of its ownership rules. Earlier this year, NAB filed a mandamus petition with the US Court of Appeals, which asked the court to compel the FCC to reach a decision in this proceeding. NAB won and ordered the FCC to issue a decision by December 27th of this year. There are several issues under consideration:

 

  • Review of local radio ownership rules

  • Local TV ownership rules involving two of the top 4 stations in a market

  • Shared Service agreements in TV

  • Dual network rule that prevents common ownership of two of the top four TV networks.

 

NYSBA has long argued that the FCC’s broadcast ownership rules must be revised to reflect current marketplace realities. Given the rapid rise of streaming and other digital services, the FCC needs to revise its rules. The days of an insular marketplace in which broadcasters compete with each other have long passed. 

 

With three democratic Commissioners, it is unlikely that the FCC will significantly relax its rules.   Nonetheless, it will now be compelled to justify any rules in light of current marketplace realities. We eagerly await the FCC’s decision. After all, we have been waiting since 2018.

 

Noted communications attorney David Oxenford posted a good discussion of the issues involved in the case here

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