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Mago Tells FCC Ownership Rules Must Be Modernized

NAB exec speaks out against ‘any suggestion’ that restrictions ‘should remain unchanged’ or increase

Broadcasters “are not calling for an end to all ownership regulation, but for the modernization of out-of-date restrictions that do not reflect current competitive realities in the Internet age.”

That’s the elevator-speech version of Jane Mago’s comments this week. She’s the executive vice president and general counsel of the National Association of Broadcasters; she made remarks to the Federal Communications Commission Media Ownership Workshop.

“Reasonable reform to outmoded limitations will enable free, over-the-air broadcasters to compete more effectively against multichannel video and audio operators and Internet-based media providers,” she told the group.

“As the FCC has previously recognized, only competitively viable broadcast stations supported by adequate advertising revenues can serve the public interest effectively, provide a significant presence in local communities and offer costly local services such as local news. Above all, broadcasters want to be able to continue to serve their local communities and audiences effectively. Reform of local ownership limitations can help local stations do just that,” she said, according to an NAB summary.

In examining broadcast ownership, Mago emphasized that the FCC should keep in mind “that the public interest is best served by permitting broadcasters to compete effectively in the digital multichannel marketplace” and that the commission by law must take competitive conditions into account as it reviews ownership rules.

She also said the commission “should base its decisions on real evidence, not unsupported opinion. … It is important to have current, realistic data that fully accounts for the impact that new media sources have on broadcast stations and the audiences they serve.”

Mago said the FCC should revise the newspaper cross-ownership ban, among other things, and spoke out against “any suggestion that restrictions on broadcast ownership should remain unchanged or even increased.”