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Black Caucus Leaders Support Keeping Exclusivity Rules

A half-dozen members of the Congressional Black Caucus have urged the FCC to eliminate the syndicated exclusivity and network nonduplication rules.

FCC chairman Tom Wheeler has circulated an item eliminating the exclusivity rules, but the other commissioners appear in no hurry to vote them in the face of major pushback from broadcasters and others.

In the other category were the caucus members, led by Rep. G. K. Butterfield (D-N.C.) and Bobby Rush (D-Ill.).

In their letter to Wheeler, a copy of which was supplied to B&C, they said that the exclusivity rules supported localism, which is particularly important to low income and minority communities, which are disproportionately broadcast-only viewers. "Exclusive programming rights can incentivize television networks, syndicators, and local stations to invest in more and better video programming."

In the STELAR Act, Congress asked GAO to study the consequences of phasing out the compulsory license, something the Copyright Office has suggested be done. The caucus members told Wheeler the FCC should wait for that report—a point the National Association of Broadcasters has been making—saying it would be premature to "undo" the exclusivity rules before then.