The FCC has pledged to better hold TV stations to the requirement they put their joint sales agreements in their public files, which is now a national database administered by the FCC though with limited search functions.
That came in response to a Government Accountability Office study that found that of the 86 such JSA's it identified in public files, 25 appeared in the file of only one of the two stations.
The FCC conceded that it had not reviewed the completeness of JSA filings, and GAO pointed out that "If stations with joint sales agreements are not filing these agreements as required, a member of the public reviewing such a station's public file would not see in the file that the station's advertising sales involve joint sales with another station."
GAO sent the report to the FCC for comment before it was released (a standard practice) and FCC Media Bureau Chief Bill Lake said the FCC recognized the concern and would act on it.
"We...share your concern that potential noncompliance with the JSA filing requirement could bear on transparency of local television markets," he wrote to GAO. "The commission will take action to help ensure that broadcasters are aware of and in compliance with their public file obligations regarding JSA's and that any noncompliance is disclosed to the commission, as appropriate."
Ranking House Energy & Commerce Committee member Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) said the report highlighted the need to pass legislation--the FCC Transparency Act introduced by Sen. Ben Ray Luján (D-N.m.) requiring that the FCC maintain stations’ public files in a machine-readable format to make it easier to review.
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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.