Skip to main content

NAB FOIA's FCC Media Ownership Work Product

In the wake of FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler's circulation of a quadrennial review of broadcast ownership regulations this week that leaves them essentially intact and, arguably, even tougher, the National Association of Broadcasters wants access to the data the FCC used to come up with that result.

A source confirmed the move was an unusual one for the association, but that they were scratching their heads over how the FCC could draw that conclusion.

Related: AT&T—FCC Appears Driving to Pre-Ordained BDS Destination

National Association of Broadcasters General Counsel Rick Kaplan filed the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request on June 30, saying he wanted access to studies, reports, articles, surveys, and other sources of information in a host of dockets related to the rules and the review.

NAB had asked the FCC to loosen or eliminate local ownership and cross-ownership rules. Wheeler instead circulated an item concluding they were still necessary, including trying to restore a joint services agreement tightening a federal court remanded, and extending the duopoly restrictions to affiliation switches.

Related: Pai--Media Ownership Proposal Belies Record

Kaplan told the FCC he recognizes some documents will be redacted.

In addition to retaining its local ownership and cross-ownership limits, the FCC proposed a definition of shared services agreements and will require they be filed with the FCC, but does not make them attributable as ownership interests...yet.

Related: Spectrum Auction—Broadcaster Exit Price Is $86,422,558,704

"Our analysis indicates that the ownership restrictions remain necessary in the public interest, though the realities of the media marketplace require some targeted modifications of a number of the rules," the item concludes. NAB now wants to know exactly what it was analyzing.

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.