Abernethy: Broadcasters Need More Consolidation, No Ownership Caps

New York -- Fox Television Stations CEO and Broadcasting & Cable Broadcaster of the Year Jack Abernethy called for a removal of federal broadcast ownership restrictions in accepting his award at the TVB Forward 2018 conference here Thursday.

Related: Abernethy Keeps Fox Stations Focused on Local 

“Anyone who is honest and takes a step back, there is no question that best thing for our business would be a full relaxation of ownership restrictions,” Abernethy said. “The best thing for consumers, employees and the communities that we serve. Arguments to the contrary are defensive, self-serving, misinformed or a combination thereof.”

Abernethy, who runs Fox’s 28 owned and operated stations across the country, also put in a plug for greater industry consolidation, adding that greater scale would help accelerate progress toward initiatives like targeted advertising and ATSC 3.0.

Related: Fox Could Boost Station Ownership 

The Fox executive also dismissed arguments from what he called “self-promoters” who have claimed greater scale would diminish competition and diversity, using his own group as an example. When Fox purchased San Francisco station KTVU in 2014, it expanded its daily news from eight hours per day to 12 hours, and all are at No. 1.

“Night time, when most stations do half an hour, most of our stations do 90 minutes,” Abernethy said. “Our size allows us to try new and different formats with diverse talent.”

He pointed to Fox’s Houston station Fox 26, which in May last year expanded its late news to 2 hours and added diverse programming like Isiah Factor Uncensored. Fox has also added local daytime talk shows like The Jason Show in Minneapolis, The Q in Philadelphia, prime time shows like Like it or Not in Washington, D.C., and Free for All, a 10:30 p.m. show in its Dallas market.

“We are just privileged to do what we do as broadcasters, and we look ahead with confidence,” he said.