Chamber goes to bat for broadcasters


“The broadcast industry must not be shackled with onerous rules that would hinder its ability to compete.” Sounds like something the NAB might say, but in fact these are the words of William L. Kovacs, VP/Environment, Technology & Regulatory Affairs for the US Chamber of Commerce. USCC wants the FCC to pull back from its attempt to promote broadcast localism. “The FCC’s proposed rules ignore marketplace developments and seek to resurrect a series of regulations that were previously deemed unnecessary, imprudent and burdensome to businesses.”

USCC noted that localism is not only a sound business practice for most broadcasters and is often a survival technique. Further, according to the FCC’s own information, 70% of all television stations and 95% of all radio stations qualify as small businesses according to definitions used by the SBA. USCC said these are just the type of business that would be severely hampered by administrative and labor costs which would be imposed by the new regime.

“Only by completely ignoring the current state of the media marketplace can the FCC justify reverting to long-abandoned policies,” continued Kovacs. “Rather than providing a boost to the public interest, the proposed new rules would likely hamper broadcasters’ ability to provide community-responsive programming such as news, weather, emergency alerts and public affairs programming.”

RBR/TVBR observation: We completely understand the motivation behind the attempt to improve local content. But a straight line cannot be drawn from a stack of filled-out forms directly to improved content. That’s because there is no definition of just what constitutes serving the local population. If you broadcast a dripping faucet and people from your service area tune in to watch or listen, then the public interest is in fact being served. The station can produce a completely empty creel regarding the FCC’s fishing expedition for the kind of public interest programming it would like to see, and still the FCC would have no recourse. And if we are correct, and the FCC cannot do a thing about such a ridiculous abuse of the airwaves (which no broadcast company in its right mind would ever perpetrate) (except maybe as an interim format flip stunt) then the whole entire FCC enterprise is a waste of time and money.