“It was a tough battle, but it was the right decision.”
That’s what Jeff Warshaw, CEO of Connoisseur Media, told RBR+TVBR on Friday morning as he formally shared the biggest and most positive bit of news he’d be hoping for from the FCC for months.
With the 3-2 vote to eliminate the Commission’s media cross-ownership rules came a victory for Warshaw and other operators, including Pamal Broadcasting, with respect to how the FCC will view embedded markets.
In short, relief is here — and he’s more than relieved.
While the original Report and Order did not specifically include language regarding embedded markets — namely, markets wholly within a larger DMA — the affirmative vote gave broadcasters in these markets a presumptive waiver.
Until the vote, broadcasters in an embedded market would have to comply with the FCC’s ownership limits in both markets; that might prevent them from purchasing stations.
In the New York and Washington, D.C., DMAs, this was — in Warshaw’s opinion — an unnecessary burden that limited business growth and failed to foster competition.
Warshaw first brought his concerns to the FCC in a July 5 letter. The NAB backed Warshaw.
Connoisseur said in July that ratings data show people living in one such market rarely listen to a station targeting another embedded market, and that ratings show embedded market stations are not significant competitors in the core markets since their signals often don’t cover them entirely. The company also pointed out that Census Bureau commuting pattern information shows people spend little time traveling from one embedded market to another.
Thanks to GOP Commissioners Michael O’Rielly and Brendan Carr, who agreed with Warshaw, the presumptive waiver became a reality.
Warshaw said, “Connoisseur views this change as an important one, but as only a start for the radio industry generally to address the ownership rules that apply to it.”
He added that Connoisseur looks forward to the opportunity “to actively participate in the discussion of how the rules relating to radio ownership can be changed to reflect the current media marketplace, as we believe that the radio industry today faces as much if not more change and disruption than do television and newspapers.”