Wheeler woe: FCC to ban JSAs


Tom WheelerTom Wheeler, FCC Chairman, looks like he’s going to move ahead with a Report and Order on changing media-ownership rules that would make it harder for broadcast companies to control two TV stations in the same local market by using the same ad sales staff (Joint Sales Agreements), the Wall Street Journal reported.

Wheeler is likely to force an FCC vote on March 31, and the Dems are said to win it 3-2.

Wheeler’s proposal would treat broadcasters as the owners of any station for which they handle more than 15% of the advertising sales,” Reuters/The Chicago Tribune reported the WSJ as saying.

If the Commission approves the proposed order, many larger broadcasters, such as Sinclair could be forced to unwind the agreements that don’t meet these requirements within two years or face a potential violation of the FCC’s media ownership rules, WSJ said.

For decades, rules prohibited one owner from controlling both a newspaper and a television or radio station in a single market. More than a year ago, the previous FCC chairman, Julius Genachowski, circulated a proposal that would have relaxed the ban, eliminating the restrictions on one owner controlling a radio station and a newspaper in the same market. However, in December the FCC withdrew the proposal.

See the Reuters/Chicago Tribune story here

RBR-TVBR observation: If they’re going to do this, why in the world would the FCC not grandfather those JSAs currently in existence? Otherwise, this move is going to be devastating to the TV broadcast industry and send their stocks down. In many markets where JSAs exist, there isn’t enough revenue there (retailers, car dealerships, etc) to run a TV station without help from SSAs and JSAs. It will ultimately hurt the viewer, because their NBC, ABC, CBS, Fox, CW or MyNetwork affiliate will disappear. Broadcast groups will have to completely change their business plans and a lot of people will lose their jobs—because these companies need to make a profit to survive. Thanks Mr. Wheeler for your efforts to disrupt local broadcasting—as if they don’t already have enough regulation on their backs. And oh by the way, are you – a former Cable Guy — really going to demolish local broadcasting JSAs and then approve the Comcast merger with Time Warner Cable? Really?