FCC commissioners Mignon Clyburn and Ajit Pai dropped in on the Fox affiliates board meeting April 7, educating the broadcast group leaders on how to better communicate their vitality to Washington. Each had the floor for at least half an hour, said Jeff Rosser, board chairman.
“We asked both, what is it broadcasters need to do to demonstrate the great value that free, over-the-air broadcasting brings to communities they serve,” said Rosser. “They said we need to come in—that their doors are open and they’d like to spend more time with us.”
Rosser, group VP at Raycom, called Pai “a friend to broadcast,” while the relationship with Clyburn is more a work in progress. The pair had been invited to the Vegas meeting by the Fox affiliates board, which felt that all of those with joint sales arrangements were being penalized for those which skirted closer to running afoul of the rules.
Fox executives, including Jon Hookstratten, executive VP of network distribution, spoke with the board. Much of the session was dedicated to fixing Fox’s underperforming primetime. Rosser said the board believes network prime performance is cyclical, and it’s simply Fox’s time to be on the short end. “They know they have work to do,” he said. “If we had to bet on one network to turn it around, it’s Fox. They’re not giving this lip service.”
Fox VP of distribution, advanced services and digital, BJ Elias spoke on TV Everywhere; Rosser said most Fox affiliates have a current live-streaming relationship with the network. He said the topic would be delved into further at the Fox affiliates body meeting April 8.
Meetings between the Fox board, and body, in years past featured difficult fights over retrans sharing. Such tension was absent from the April 7 meeting, said Rosser.