As part of the long-delayed 2010/2014 quadrennial review of the media ownership rules, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has issued a memorandum proposing updates.
With the exception of a handful of minor tweaks, the radio ownership limits will remain unchanged. There will be clarifications to assist in processing license transfer applications, a new market definition for Puerto Rico, and clarification of the grandfathering of city-of-license changes. Radio and television cross-ownership limits remain as-is with a modification to address the transition to digital television.
The biggest change comes on the television side where the ban of two top 4 rated network affiliates is extended to prevent companies from changing network affiliations as a way to evade the ban, but will not limit dual affiliations via HD multicast.
Most surprising considering the state of the publishing industry is the retaining of the newspaper/broadcast co-ownership ban, although Wheeler states there will be relaxation on rule providing exemptions for failing properties and waivers will be considered.
NAB Executive VP of Communications Dennis Wharton released the following statement in regards to the proposed changes:
We’re disappointed that Chairman Wheeler continues to ignore the will of both the courts and Congress by proposing to retain broadcast ownership rules that long ago outlived their usefulness. It is shocking that regulators who bless mammoth mergers like AT&T/DirecTV and Charter/Time Warner Cable would still bar common ownership of two TV stations or broadcast/newspaper combinations in a local market. Ultimately, NAB hopes the five-member FCC, Congress or the courts end this indefensible FCC charade, and that meaningful ownership reform is adopted for the benefit of the millions of Americans reliant on free and local broadcasting.