Pai Praises Bill Grandfathering JSAs

Says unwinding sharing deals has led to shuttering stations
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FCC commissioner Ajit Pai is no fan of the FCC's vote last year—he voted no—to make most TV joint sales agreements attributable as ownership interests. However, he is a big fan of new legislation that would grandfather all the applicable JSAs in place before that March 31, 2014 vote.

In a statement following the introduction of that bill Monday (May 4) by a bipartisan quartet of senators, Pai commended them for "protecting" JSAs.

"Under rules passed by the FCC last year on a party-line vote, JSAs that had been previously approved by the Commission would have to be unwound by 2016," Pai said. "This bipartisan bill, by contrast, would permit television stations to maintain those JSAs."

"JSAs are contractual agreements that allow broadcasters to cut down on costs by using the same advertising sales force," he said. "The efficiencies created by JSAs have helped broadcasters to offer services that benefit consumers, especially in smaller markets. From enabling a television station in Wichita, Kansas, to broadcast the only Spanish-language news in the state to allowing broadcasters in Joplin, Missouri to invest in Doppler radar technology that saved lives during a 2011 tornado, JSAs have served communities well and have promoted localism and diversity in broadcasting."

Pai made similar arguments in the run-up to the FCC party-line vote.

"Unfortunately, the FCC’s new restrictions on JSAs have already caused some stations to go off the air and other stations to carry less local news. And that disturbing trend will only accelerate if scores of existing JSAs are terminated next year. For the sake of television viewers across the country, I agree with Senators [Roy] Blunt, [Barbara] Mikulski, [Charles] Schumer, and [Tim] Scott that we should not let that happen."

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