The FCC may make television stations participating in a JSA attributable to the lead operating company as part of the upcoming ownership rulemaking tied to the quadrennial review – a move that NAB says would be harmful to the industry, putting it on uneven footing with MVPD competitors.
The NAB made its remarks in an ex officio meeting between its own Jane Mago, Jerianne Timmerman and Erin Dozier; and Commissioner Ajit Pai and members of his staff.
The NAB indicated its support for elimination of cross-ownership restrictions, relaxed local television and radio rules and adoption of various proposals to increase diversity of ownership.
It spent a great deal of time defending joint sales agreements (JSAs), which have been reported as a possible target in the current proceeding but treating them as attributable interesets. NAB said such a decision is not supported by the record and would be particularly harmful in smaller markets.
NAB noted that it is facing increased competition from MVPDs for local advertising dollars, and that competition from other platforms is increasing as well.
Futher, MVPDs are using their own JSAs to increase share without competing against one another. NAB cited NCC Media, a joint venture of three large cable companies that partners with Verizon FiOS, AT&T U-Verse and DIRECTV to jointly sell local spots.
NAB says it would be utterly unfair to restrict broadcasters’ ability to form JSAs while MVPDs are allowed to enter into them freely.
NAB further noted that broadcasters are disadvantaged in many markets due to a very high share of the local MVPD market held by one operator, which competes against broadcasters that control only a fraction of the advertising market.
The NAB also noted that JSAs are in the public interest, frequently making it possible to local stations to program news and information programming aimed directly at the local market, programming which would otherwise be inaffordable.
NAB’s full statement on the meeting can be found here.