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NAB Urges FCC to Move on Media Ownership Changes

Broadcast trade lobby endorses modest relaxation of some ownership rules and incentives to increase broadcast ownership diversity.

NAB has urged the FCC to give serious consideration to several proposals for incentive-based measures to enhance opportunities to diversify station ownership.

The broadcast trade lobby told the commission in reply comments to the media ownership proceeding that nobody would be served by further delay in voting on a “modest” relaxation in those rules.

NAB hopes the agency will “move forward with modifications to its broadcast ownership limits, take some immediate race-neutral steps to enhance broadcast ownership diversity and continue research to lay the foundation for other measures if such neutrals steps fail to produce results.”

The commission has proposed eliminating the ban that prevents one entity from owning both a daily newspaper and either a radio or TV station in a market, as well as the TV-radio cross-ownership ban.

NAB supports the move, saying it’s well beyond time to remove the archaic restriction now that so much media is available in so many outlets. Some civil rights and some consumer groups want the commission to further study how such a change could affect ownership diversity before voting on the changes.

NAB, the National Association of Media Brokers and the Newspaper Association of America support proposals to establish an incubator program that provides broadcasters incentives to finance or incubate disadvantaged businesses; reinstatement and expansion of the tax certificate policy and relaxation of foreign ownership restrictions to “actually address the real issue at hand — whether minorities or any other new entrant can gain access to the capital necessary to purchase a broadcast station.”

NAB and the NAA also endorse proposals by the Diversity & Competition Supporters to relax the main studio rule, remove the AM nighttime coverage rule, replace the minimum efficiency standard for AM with a minimum radiation standard and remove non-viable FM allotments — all barriers for minorities and women to station ownership. The DCS consists of 50 minority, women’s and civil rights groups and is represented by the Minority Media & Telecommunications Council.

Additional proposals put forth by the DCS and supported by NAB include structural rule waivers for financing construction of a qualifying entity’s unbuilt station and developing an online resource directory to enhance recruitment, advancement and diversity efforts.