WASHINGTON, March 6 U.S. Federal Communications
Commission on March 31 will vote on new rules that would
prohibit broadcast companies from controlling more than two TV
stations in a market by sharing advertising sales staff, FCC
officials said on Thursday.
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler is now proposing new rules that
would count a broadcaster as having an ownership interest in any
station where that owner sells 15 percent or more of advertising
Another proposed rule would also ban two or more
broadcasters that technically compete against each other in the
same market to band together and jointly negotiate
retransmission agreements with cable and satellite companies.
Current FCC rules typically prohibit one broadcaster from
owning two TV stations in one local market. But some companies
have relied on workarounds that the FCC says often give one
broadcaster de facto control over another station's programming
For instance, some stations in the same market strike
agreements that has one of them selling some or all advertising
for the other in a deal known as a joint services agreement.
If adopted, new rules could mean potential divestitures for
large TV station owners such as Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc.
. The FCC said it would give broadcasters two years to
divest or apply for waivers, which the FCC would consider on a
case-by-case basis to see if they are in the public interest.
The new rules would change the current media ownership
regulations, which the FCC is required to review every four
years. As the five-member FCC votes on the rules, it will also
vote to launch the 2014 quadrennial media ownership review,
merging the unfinished 2010 review into the new one.
The review would seek comment on whether broadcasters should
disclose some so-called shared services agreements on sharing
assets, such as a news helicopter.
It would also keep the current limit on one owner's
controlling a major newspaper and TV station in one market and
seek comment on possibly relaxing those restrictions.