The National Association of Broadcasters has been very vocal about its displeasure with the FCC on ownership rules ever since the Commission decided in August to leave the rules as they’ve been for decades. And now the NAB plans to take the government agency to court over the issue.
Back in August the Commission voted 3-2 not to modify or update the rules. Voting against were Commissioners Pai and O’Rielly. Here’s what the Commission stated in August: “Based on our careful review of the record, we find that the public interest is best served by retaining our existing rules, with some minor modifications. These rules promote competition and a diversity of viewpoints in local markets, thereby enriching local communities through the promotion of distinct and antagonistic voices. Ideally, our media landscape should be diverse because our population is diverse, and retaining the existing media ownership rules is one way in which the Commission can help to promote such diversity. The record in this proceeding leads us to conclude that retaining the existing rules is the best way to promote our policy goals in local markets at this time.”
The NAB came out with this strongly worded statement after it was learned the Commission had no plans to change the ownership rules. “NAB strongly disagrees with the FCC’s decision to cling to long-outdated media ownership rules that no longer serve their purpose. For an agency that claims to be forward-thinking and focused on the future, when it comes to broadcasting, the FCC still applies analog regulation in the digital age. Most egregious is the Commission’s failure to remove its cross-ownership rules. The FCC’s greatest accomplishment with its latest order is to further hasten the great decline of our nation’s newspapers and the quality of journalism as a whole.”
Last month FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai, speaking to the Kansas Association of Broadcasters, said the Commission’s decision to retain the newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership rule was a “profound mistake.” “Put simply, it makes no sense for the federal government to discourage investment in the newspaper industry.” Pai said that’s precisely what the newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership rule does, adding broadcasters are well-situated to partner with newspapers.
Broadcasting and Cable reports the lawsuit should be filed within a week.