Media Bureau Rescinds JSA Guidance

The FCC has rescinded its March 2014 guidance on the processing of applications for various broadcast TV sharing arrangements like joint sales agreements (JSAs).

That came from the Media Bureau's acting chief Michelle Carey, whose bureau was busy Friday undoing actions of the former Democratic majority.

"This Public Notice rescinds, in its entirety and effective immediately, earlier guidance provided in a March 12, 2014, public notice, DA 14-330, 'Processing of Broadcast Television Applications Proposing Sharing Arrangements and Contingent Interests,'" the bureau said.

In March 2014, the Media Bureau issued guidance to broadcasters that it would be scrutinizing sharing arrangements with financial components closely to make sure they were arms-length transactions and not de facto control.

"NAB is pleased that Chairman Pai is eliminating unlawful and arbitrary processing guidelines governing broadcast joint sales and shared service agreements," said National Association of Broadcasters spokesman Dennis Wharton. "These regulations unfairly punished smaller broadcasters attempting to conserve resources to reinvest in localism and high quality programming. Broadcasters vying to compete with increasingly consolidated pay TV giants should not be stymied by overly-burdensome regulation."

NAB sued the FCC over the guidance, saying it was a "categorical presumption" against such deals.

Democratic commissioner Mignon Clyburn was not happy. “It is a basic principle of administrative procedure that actions must be accompanied by reasons for that action, else that action is unlawful," she said in response to that and other actions Friday. "Yet that is exactly what multiple Bureaus have done today. The Bureaus rescind prior Bureau actions by simply citing a rule that allows them to do so, when in prior invocations of that rule there have been oft-lengthy explanations for the reasoning behind the actions."

(Photo via Pictures of Money's FlickrImage taken on Sept. 9, 2016 and used per Creative Commons 2.0 license. The photo was cropped to fit 3x4 aspect ratio.)

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.