NABOB Pitches JSA/SSA Diversity Incubator Proposal

The National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters (NABOB) wants the FCC to consider using toward joint sales agreements (JSAs) and shared services agreements (SSAs) to promote ownership diversity or "other important commission policies."

The FCC under chairman Tom Wheeler is expected to vote at its March meeting on a proposal to make JSAs of over 15% of a stations ad sales attributable under local ownership rules, as they currently are in radio, and perhaps make SSAs attributable in some circumstances as well.

In some ways, the NABOB proposal is a restatement, from another angle, of Wheeler's avowed plan to look at JSAs and SSAs on a case-by-case basis in transactions before the commission, and allow them if they further public interest goals.

NABOB has historically been opposed to JSAs and SSAs, which they saw as a way to circumvent the FCC's local ownership caps.

But in a meeting with FCC commissioner Mignon Clyburn, NABOB executive director James Winston, said the sorry state of minority ownership has caused it to rethink its position if those sharing arrangements can be used to incubate minority ownership. He pointed out that of the three full power, commercial TV stations owned by African American-controlled companies, two, which were just recently bought, are being operated under JSAs and SSAs.

"I suggested that the Commission look at JSAs and SSAs on a case-by-case basis to see if they have the potential to promote diversity of ownership or other important Commission policies," Winston said, according to an FCC document. "If so, the Commission could place conditions on such JSAs and SSAs such that these agreements would be structured to enable the licensee of the station to eventually operate the station without the need for a JSA or SSA."

Winston is not necessarily arguing against the FCC making JSAs or SSAs attributable, but wants the FCC to grant waivers on a case-by-case basis.

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.