Washington, D.C. – Yesterday, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced a new measure designed to increase competition in the broadcast television industry. The decision will require television joint sales agreements (JSAs) – which allow one broadcaster to sell advertising time for another broadcaster in their geographic area – to come into compliance with the same rules governing radio JSAs.
In the radio business, if one broadcaster sells more than 15% of another broadcaster’s air time, it is deemed to have “attributable ownership interest” for purposes of the FCC’s media ownership limit. This attribution rule will now apply to television broadcasters across the country.The decision is a step towards ensuring fair media ownership rules that increase competition, as it will push some broadcast conglomerates over media ownership limits, requiring that they abandon or minimize the use of JSAs.
The National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC) has long advocated for strong and loophole-free media ownership rules to reduce barriers for Latinos, other people of color and women to own media outlets. As of 2011, despite comprising 17% of the U.S. population, Latinos owned only 2.9% of full power commercial television stations, 2.7% of FM radio outlets, and 4.5% of AM radio stations.
“NHMC is pleased that the Commission has taken a significant step to close a loophole that has been used by some to circumvent its rules,” stated NHMC Policy Director, Michael Scurato. “This action could, potentially, create new opportunities for women, Latinos and other people of color to enter the market by reducing the many anti-competitive JSAs across the country that harm the public interest. At the same time, those that serve the public interest will have the opportunity to seek waivers. It is a well-balanced approach.”
In addition to its decision regarding JSAs, the FCC announced that it would commence the 2014 quadrennial review of its ownership limits.
“Moving forward, NHMC is anxious to engage in the FCC’s upcoming quadrennial review, and expects the FCC to perform the research and analysis necessary to examine how any rule changes would impact diversity and inclusion in the industry, as mandated by statute and court precedent,” Scurato added.
The National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC) is a media advocacy and civil rights organization for the advancement of Latinos, working towards a media that is fair and inclusive of Latinos, and towards universal, affordable, and open access to communications. Learn more at www.nhmc.org. Receive real-time updates on Facebook and Twitter @NHMC.