WASHINGTON, D.C. — The House Energy & Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, chaired by Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), took several hours on Wednesday afternoon to hold its second FCC Oversight hearing of the current Congress.
There were some entertaining moments — including a shot from Democratic Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel lobbed to the upper body of Congress on the other side of Capitol Hill. But, the top words said for broadcasters came from FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. He revealed plans to modernize broadcast media ownership, and the NAB is delighted.
Pai confirmed that he has drafted a proposal that will appear on the FCC’s November Open Meeting agenda that will further modernize the nation’s broadcast media ownership rules. This will tackle the “Eight Voices Test,” and scuttle it if approved. This will also abandon the cross-ownership rule barring those from owning a newspaper and radio or TV station in the same market — a rule that was crafted when “The Hustle” by Van McCoy topped the Top 40 charts.
That’s likely to come in at least a 3-2 vote, as the Republican leadership believes it is time for it to go.
So does the NAB.
In a statement issued as the four Commissioners and Chairman Pai continued to entertain questions from the Subcommittee, meeting in a jam-packed Rayburn House Office Building Room 2322, NAB EVP/Communications Dennis Wharton said, “NAB strongly supports Chairman’s Pai plan for modernizing broadcast media ownership rules. For 40 years, policymakers and the courts have blessed countless mega-mergers among national telco, cable and satellite program giants, while at the same time blocking broadcast/newspaper or radio/TV combinations in single markets.”
He added, “This nonsensical regulatory approach has harmed the economic underpinning of newspapers, reduced local journalism jobs, and punished free and local broadcasters at the expense of our pay TV and radio competitors. We look forward to rational media ownership rules that foster a bright future for broadcasters and our tens of millions of listeners and viewers.”
The hearing, which was still ongoing at RBR+TVBR’s deadline some 2 1/2 hours in, touched on a wide range of issues. It also featured a few choice moments, such as when Commissioner Rosenworcel commented on her return to the FCC by stating, “I had a little vacation courtesy of your friends in the U.S. Senate.”
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