NAB fighting rule rollback


It’s not bad enough that the NAB didn’t get much out of the FCC’s court-ordered reworking of broadcast ownership rules – pressure is already on the Commission to reverse itself on the scant deregulation that it did allow, the legalization of broadcast/newspaper cross-ownership in the top 20 Nielsen DMAs, not to mention other items entered in the rule books much earlier. The NAB is trying to head off any such rollback. Petitioners are also trying to eliminate existing television duopolies and radio station clusters built under rules revised by the 1996 Telecom Act.

Discussing the top 20 easement, NAB argued, “This order very modestly reformed the complete ban on newspaper/broadcast cross-ownership and made no changes to the television duopoly and local radio ownership rules.”

NAB has been fighting for further deregulation on grounds of increasing competition from the seemingly endless parade of new media born of new technology, and argues that making the rules more restrictive than they already are is unwarranted and not supported by the record.

RBR/TVBR observation: The cross-ownership rule faces some serious hurdles, but few if any media companies have as yet attempted to take advantage of them. As for the local ownership caps, we don’t see a rollback happening – those worms are out of the can. Even if the government rolled into town and ordered an eight-station radio cluster to spin three or four of them, or ordered a TV duopoly to be halved, it had better bring a buyer into town, too, not to mention some financial backers. Neither are all that plentiful out in the wilds of the open market these days.