ACA: DOJ Filing Should Signal Attribution Determination For Joint Retrans

The American Cable Association has told the FCC that it should declare coordinated retransmission consent agreements as per se attributable under ownership rules.

That means a station could not coordinate retrans negotiations for another station unless it could also own that station under FCC local or national ownership rules.

ACA pointed to the Justice Department's filing at the FCC last week, in which it said that coordinated sales or retrans negotiations would need to serve "some other efficiency enhancing combination of operations" at the two stations not to be deemed per se illegal.

ACA has been arguing that coordinated retrans are not necessary to any of the efficiencies broadcasters claim, and says the DOJ position backs it up.

"DOJ expressed great skepticism that these types of joint pricing agreements would ever be necessary for stations to achieve other efficiency-enhancing combinations of their operations," says ACA.

The FCC, in its ongoing review of media ownership rules, asked for input on the impact of sales and operations sharing agreements.

It is widely expected to propose making joint sales agreements (JSAs) of more than 15% of a station's ads attributable as ownership interest, as it currently does in radio. Local marketing agreements where one station supplies more than 15% of another's programming and sells the ad time in that programming can already be attributable as ownership interest in both TV and radio.

The FCC is also expected to seek more input on what to do about shared services agreements (SSAs), local news services (LNS) and other sharing agreements that FCC rules do not specifically address.

The National Association of Broadcasters has called DOJ's conclusions job-killing, economy-damaging, and wrong.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.