Sen. Rand Paul Introduces Broadcast Dereg Bill

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) questions Dr. Anthony Fauci, White House Chief Medical Advisor and Director of the NIAID, at a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing on Capitol Hill on January 11, 2022 in Washington, D.C.
(Image credit: Greg Nash-Pool/Getty Images)

In the name of helping broadcasters better compete with Big Tech, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has introduced a bill that comprises a broadcaster wish list of deregulatory moves.

But unless Republicans can take over both houses of Congress in the midterm election, the bill is unlikely to get traction.

The Local News and Broadcast Media Preservation Act of 2022 would invalidate the FCC's current multiple station ownership limits and prevent the FCC from restoring the prohibition on common ownership of broadcast properties and newspapers.

In November 2017, a politically divided FCC voted to eliminate the newspaper-broadcast and the radio-TV cross-ownership rules, but if the FCC ever gets a Democratic majority -- currently it is tied 2-2 -- Republicans fear that prohibition could return.

Paul's bill would also mandate that mergers among broadcasters not be considered to lessen competition or create a monopoly, or as Paul put it in a press release, "would allow local broadcast companies to merge without government interference to allow those broadcasters to better compete against these tech giants."

The bill would also incorporate an ongoing effort, Paul was co-sponsor of the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act (JCPA), to give broadcasters an antitrust exemption to collectively negotiate with online content distributors for compensation for the online use of broadcasters' valuable local news content. ■

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.