Skip to main content

FCC faces petitions to alter ownership rules

More than 25 petitions demanding that the Federal Communications Commission
rethink its new broadcast-ownership rules were filed Friday.

The petitions for FCC reconsideration will be considered independently of the
court challenges to the new rules.

TV broadcasters led the way with charges that relaxed limits on duopolies
didn’t go far enough.

LIN Television Corp., Raycom Media Inc. and Nexstar Broadcasting Group Inc. argued that outlets in small
and midsized markets where ad revenue is sparse may have to abandon local news
due to the ban on combinations between stations rated in a market’s top four.

"In these markets, where stations face slimmer profit margins and relatively
higher fixed costs than large-market stations, the rule undermined values of
localism by preventing efficient sharing of resources," LIN’s attorneys wrote.

The top-four restriction essentially bans TV pairs in markets with fewer than
five stations, which account for 91 of the country’s 210 markets.

A provision for case-by-case waivers is unacceptable because it "discourages
investment and is needlessly inefficient," LIN said.

LIN also urged the FCC to remove a ban on selling pairs intact when the
combos are formed via a waiver or when the weaker station improves sufficiently
to break into the market’s top four after the pair is formed.

In addition to relaxing duopoly limits, the FCC increased the national TV-ownership cap to 45% of television households, permitted local
broadcast/newspaper cross-ownership and tightened radio-ownership limits

Cumulus Media Inc.'s Cumulus Radio asked the commission to reverse a change in measuring radio
markets, or at least to allow pending deals to go forward if the change casts them
out of compliance with local limits.

The National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters and the Minority Media
and Telecommunications Council said the FCC should not have made deregulatory
moves without also establishing new initiatives for minority ownership.

Capitol Broadcasting Co. Inc. urged the FCC to rethink the deregulatory changes, as
well, and also called on the commission to eliminate a practice that cuts a UHF
station’s measured household reach in half.

Opposing all of the deregulatory changes were public-advocacy groups Free Press
and Amherst Alliance, as well as artists comprising the Center for the Creative Community.

Organizations that previously filed court challenges to the rules were
ineligible to file reconsideration petitions with the FCC.