On tap for broadcast panel


The third and final FCC media ownership workshop for the week will feature five panelists, representing the NAB, two television groups and two minority groups. The glaring absence: a radio group.

Here are the scheduled witnesses for the 11/4/09 stakeholders’ session, otherwise known as the Broadcaster and Industry Panel:

* David Barrett, President and CEO, Hearst Television, Inc.

* Jessica Gonzalez, Policy Counsel, National Hispanic Media Coalition

* Jane Mago, Executive Vice President and General Counsel, National Association of Broadcasters

* George Mahoney, Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary, Media General

* James Winston, Executive Director and General Counsel, National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters

RBR-TVBR observation: The absence of a pure radio presence on the panel is probably not that big of a deal. NAB is certainly capable of looking out for radio’s interests.

Radio has already been highly deregulated, and the courts actually allowed several of the 2003 rule changes affecting radio to go through, most notably changing the way local markets are defined.

While it is unthinkable that local radio caps will be loosened by this particular FCC, we also think it highly unlikely there will be a serious attempt to try to make the caps more restrictive.

The bigger issue will likely be getting duopoly help for local television in smaller markets and permanently relaxing or eliminating cross-ownership restrictions. We expect broadcasters will have very tough time making any headway on either count, and that both issues will eclipse any remaining issues directly affecting the radio side.

However, we will likely hear a great deal about Arbitron and PPM from the minority participants in this proceeding. However, it is highly questionable that the issue falls under FCC jurisdiction — not even FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski seems to think so — so it is likely to be at most a noisy sideshow to the general ownership proceeding.