TV Stations Must Start Enhanced SSA Reporting March 23

The enhanced reporting on TV station shared services agreements (SSAs) portion of the FCC's November Quadrennial Review media deregulation order has been approved by the Office of Management and Budget and TV stations will have to comply starting March 23.

That is according to the Federal Register, which published the notice of OMB's approval in Friday's (March 23) edition. OMB approved the collection March 12, but the effective date was signaled by Friday's publication.

OMB must sign off on the added paperwork, or electronic paperwork, obligations of a new regulation per the Paperwork Reduction Act.

As part of the media reg rollback, the FCC invalidated a previous commission's advice that it would vet SSA's under what amounted to strict scrutiny because they could be used as a way to establish de facto control without running afoul of local ownership rules. But the rollback also rolled out enhanced reporting requirements that require commercial TV stations to "place in their online public inspection file a copy of every Shared Service Agreement for the station (with the substance of oral agreements reported in writing), regardless of whether the agreement involves commercial television stations in the same market or in different markets, with confidential or proprietary information redacted where appropriate."

A Republican FCC majority, assailed by Hill Democrats who tried to block the vote and FCC Dems who strongly dissented, voted Nov. 17 to eliminate some decades-old broadcast regulations and tweak others in what broadcasters have argued is a necessary move to allow them to remain relevant in a sea of less-regulated competitors.

The order eliminated the newspaper-broadcast and the radio-TV cross-ownership rules; allowed dual station ownership in markets with fewer than eight independent voices after the duopoly, creatied an opportunity for ownership of two of the top four stations in a market on a case-by-case basis (the FCC is not calling it a waiver); eliminated attribution of joint sales agreements as ownership; and created an incubator program, in addition to eliminating the FCC advisory on JSAs and adding the enhanced notification requirement for those deals.

It did not change the dual-network ownership prohibition.

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.