Washington

NAB OK With Delaying Media Ownership Vote

Backs MMTC pitch that FCC allow it first to study potential impact of loosening cross-ownership; FCC seeks comment on case-by-case look at foreign ownership 2/26/2013 11:31:01 AM Eastern

The Minority Media and Telecommunications Council has asked
the FCC for a "brief" delay in a vote on the FCC's consideration of
media ownership, and the National Association of Broadcasters does not object.

In addition, the FCC has sought comment on a request to
loosen foreign ownership restrictions on a case-by-case basis.

The media ownership vote has been delayed for a while
already due to concerns about the impact of loosening newspaper/broadcast cross-ownership
regs on diverse ownership.

FCC chairman Julius Genachowski has proposed relaxing the ban on some newspaper/TV cross-ownership in the top 20 markets and lifting it on newspaper/radio cross-ownership.

In a letter to the commissioners, MMTC asked for the
delay so it could conduct a study on what the impact of cross-ownership would
be on minority and women ownership.

The study would be undertaken by BIA/Kelsey and peer
reviewed, so that would likely be at least a couple month delay in any vote on
the rule change.

"The study's methodology is designed so that the final
report should be completed, peer reviewed and submitted to the Commission for
its consideration within eight weeks of today," MMTC said.

That might actually speed the process if it satisfied
critics of the FCC who had complained the commission was prepared to vote on
the change without the separate diversity studies the commission has yet to
complete.

Broadcasters have been looking for action on media ownership
out of the FCC for years, but broadcasters have lately not been pushing hard
for a vote given that they think loosening, rather than lifting, the
TV/newspaper cross-ownership ban is barely half a loaf and weren't really
pushing on radio/newspaper. In addition, the FCC proposal also includes
counting some joint sales agreements toward local ownership caps, something
that likely has three votes and that they don't want to see happen.

"The National Association of Broadcasters reviewed
MMTC's letter and agrees that there is potential merit in additional
data-gathering regarding minority ownership," said Jane Mago, executive VP
and general counsel, NAB, in a letter to the FCC on Monday. "Accordingly,
NAB does not oppose MMTC's suggestion that the Commission defer action in the
above-referenced proceedings pending its review of the results of MMTC's
study."

Separately, the FCC issued a public notice seeking comment
on a proposal by the Coalition for Broadcast Investment (MMTC is a founding
member) that the commission look at proposals to allow more than 25% foreign
ownership in a broadcast property on a case-by-case basis rather than the de
facto 25% cap.

MMTC has argued that is another way to boost media
diversity.

"We are gratified that the Commission is moving forward with
our proposal, which could enable broadcasters to access capital on the same
terms as their cable, satellite, wireless and online counterparts," said
Coalition adviser Mace Rosenstein.

The coalition includes the League of United
Latin American Citizens, the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the
National Black Chamber of Commerce and the National Puerto Rican Chamber of
Commerce; and broadcasters including Entravision Communications Corporation,
Bustos Media Holdings, Hearst Television Inc., CBS, Disney, Univision
Communications and Clear Channel.

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