FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has passed onto his colleagues proposed changes to media ownership rules for a vote. However the proposal retains most of the restrictions, and aims for “targeted modifications,” according to a commission outline.
NAB expressed disappointment, with spokesman Dennis Wharton calling it “shocking that regulators who bless mammoth mergers like AT&T/DirecTV and Charter/TWC would still bar common ownership of two TV stations or broadcast/newspaper combinations in a local market.” NAB hopes that the full 5-member commission, Congress or the courts intervene.
Under the proposal, the tiered local radio limits would remain intact with minor clarifications, such as a clarification of the grandfathering rules for community of license changes.
The bulk of the TV limits would remain intact as well though they would be modified to reflect the digital transition and the ban on co-ownership of top 4 TV stations in a market would expand to include network affiliation swaps.
The new radio/TV cross ownership rule would be modified to address the digital transition.
Newspaper/broadcast cross-ownership combos in a market would still be banned, however the agency would consider a waiver for failed or failing stations.
The dual network rule, which prohibits mergers among the top 4 television networks, would be retained.
Wheeler had promised Congress he would circulate a proposal by the end of this month. It’s unclear is when all the commissioners would vote on the proposal.