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NAB: Exclusivity Rules Are Crucial

The National Association of Broadcasters has quantified for the FCC what it says are the significant economic benefits of network nonduplication and syndicated exclusivity rules.

In reply comments to the FCC's inquiry into retransmission consent regs, NAB offered up a Compass Lexecon study of ratings changes for 10 TV stations that did not have the exclusive rights to affiliate and syndicated programming until they petitioned the FCC for waivers that were granted.

The study says the stations' Nielsen ratings were projected to be 24.4% higher in prime time than they would have been without that exclusive programming.

"The increase in ratings stemming from enforcement of exclusivity rules allows stations to collect higher advertising revenues, which are in turn reinvested in local news and other locally focused programming, the study concluded," NAB told the FCC.

"Elimination or weakening of the Commissions' exclusivity rules is likely to have an economically significant impact on local stations and their incentives to invest," the study said.

NAB calls "self-serving" calls by cable operators to eliminate network non-duplication and syndicated exclusivity rules.

Cable ops argue the rules prevent viewers from being offered alternative stations when impasses lead to blackouts of their in-market affiliate. They also say having the option to import stations would create more pressure on broadcasters to come to agreements before blackouts occur.