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NAB Presses the FCC Again on Ownership Limits

Group says it’s time to loosen or outright eliminate existing rules

The National Association of Broadcasters is continuing in its efforts to get ownership limits relaxed.

During a March 29 meeting with members of Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai’s office, the NAB reiterated that the time has come to eliminate or substantially loosenexisting broadcast ownership rules, as the organization laid out in its recent Petition for Reconsideration.

Among the requests: that the FCC should adopt NAB’s proposals to remove the existing eight-voices test from the FCC’s local TV rule; reform the top-four prohibition by allowing a single entity to own up to two of the top four-ranked stations in a local market; reverse the joint sales agreement attribution and shared services agreement disclosure requirements; and eliminate the newspaper/broadcast and radio/television cross-ownership rules.

In particular, the NAB focused its discussions on the top-four-ranked restrictions that exist for local TV ownership, saying that more thought should be given to the issue.

The NAB pointed out that in many cases it’s the top one or two stations that earn notably higher revenues and ratings than other stations. More significant breaks often exist between the first- and second-ranked stations, the second- and third-ranked stations or the third- and fourth- ranked stations, than actually exist between the fourth- and fifth-ranked stations.

“These studiesdemonstrate that retention of a ban on combinations involving top four-ranked stations is arbitrary and capricious,” the group said in an ex parte filing on March 31.