FCC's Quadrennial Review Vote Is on Clock

Friday marks the three-week anniversary of the Democratic majority's vote to approve the quadrennial broadcast ownership rule review, which does not include loosening or jettisoning the local ownership regs broadcasters had sought. According to sources, the two Republicans have yet to vote the item. But after those three weeks, the item will be deemed approved Aug. 3, even without those votes, per FCC rules.

That is unless one of the commissioners asks for a one-week extension to Aug. 10 which is automatically granted if asked for, or unless there are changes to the item that necessitate being re-voted. The chairman could grant further extensions as well.

The extension to Aug. 10 is a definite possibility given that there is an FCC meeting to prepare for Aug. 4, and an Aug. 2 deadline for adopting limits on debt collection calls related to robocalling that could take up commissioner and staff time between now and then.

FCC chairman Tom Wheeler has said the item, even though a majority has voted it, remains open for discussion. That could be another reason to extend the deadline, particularly since both Republican commissioners, Michael O'Rielly and Ajit Pai, have been out this week.

Given that Wheeler said the item could possibly be changed, which would then have to be re-voted by the Democrats, O'Rielly is said to be taking him at his word and working on some changes along the lines of this blog.

Broadcasters have also continued to push for getting rid of the crossownership rules, according to a source, and the National Association of Broadcasters has submitted a study buttressing its case for scrapping the eight-voices test for duopolies.

Broadcasters had been hoping for some relief given what they said was major competition from MVPDs and the web, but the item as initially voted by the Dems retains, with some tweaks, most of the current media ownership restrictions on dual station and newspaper/station ownership and even adds some.

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.