The American Television Alliance said the FCC was right to propose fining Gray Television a half-million dollars for violating, as the FCC alleged, the commission's local ownership rules.
The commission, for the first time, has proposed fining an affiliation purchase for resulting in what it said was a violation of its prohibition on owning two of the top-four rated TV stations in a market.
Also Read: FCC Proposes Fining Gray Half Million Dollars
ATVA, whose members include cable and satellite MVPDs that negotiate retrans deals with broadcasters, said so, too.
“We agree with the FCC that Gray’s manipulation of the local ownership rules was an egregious ‘evasion’ that warrants this fine,” said ATVA spokesperson Jessica Kendust. She said the proposal should be just the beginning of a closer look at a variety of loopholes she says broadcasters use to evade FCC ownership rules.
“Gray’s attempt to cure its violation in Anchorage by then moving the CBS programming from its full power station to the low power station and another feed on its NBC station is just another workaround broadcasters employ to exploit the system,” said Kendust. “We urge the FCC to close these additional loopholes.”
The FCC prohibition on owning two of the top four stations only applies to full powers.
ATVA has long argued that the FCC's rules allow broadcasters to skirt ownership restrictions and unfairly bundle retrans negotiations.
Gray had not returned a request for comment at press time on the FCC's proposed fine. It still has the opportunity to challenge the fine, which remains proposed until it exercises that option, and the FCC either reverses or upholds the fine, or Gray chooses to pay rather than challenge it.
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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.