House Bill Introduced to Limit FCC JSA Decision

A bipartisan group of House members has introduced a companion bill to Senate legislation limiting the FCC's March 2014 politically split (3-2) decision making most TV station joint sales agreements (JSAs) attributable as ownership interests. (

Like its Senate counterpart, which passed the Senate Commerce Committee last month, the House Bill would grandfather any JSA that violated the new rule but that was struck before the decision.

But the FCC decision would still be in force for any JSA's involving the sale of more than 15% of another stations' airtime and struck after that date. Those stations will be considered co-owned in the eyes of the FCC, and disallowed if that would exceed local ownership caps, unless the FCC waives the rules as it says it could in special circumstances.

The House version was introduced by, among others, Reps. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), chairman of the Communications Subcommittee and himself a former broadcaster, John Shimkus (R-Ill). Democrats on the bill included Dutch Ruppersberger of Maryland and Paul Tonko of New York.

”Joint Sales Agreements offer local broadcasters an unmatched ability to contain operational costs as they work to serve their communities. With advertising dollars shrinking year-after-year, our goal is to permit local broadcasters to adapt to a changing and competitive market, not shackle them to a particular business model," said Walden in a statement. "This commonsense legislation accomplishes that goal and will empower local broadcasters that want to remain on the air providing critical, and often life-saving, information to all Americans in an evolving communications economy.”

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.