Four TV-station groups are urging the Federal Communications Commission to set
new local-ownership limits that would make it easier to establish duopolies in
small and midsized markets.
The plan -- drafted by LIN Television Corp., Raycom Media, Waterman Broadcasting Corp. and
Montclair Communications -- is more lenient than a separate duopoly relaxation
proposal by the National Association of Broadcasters.
The companies -- which own more than 70 stations, primarily in small and midsized
markets -- suggested two options for allowing more duopolies.
Under one option, the FCC could allow ownership of two TV stations in any
market as long as the pairing didn't put the market's only TV outlets into the
hands of one company.
Under the second option, pairings would be permitted when the weaker of the
two stations controls less than 15 percent of local viewing. An even
higher threshold should be considered in markets smaller than the top 50. The
NAB's plan requires the weaker station to have less than a 10 percent share.
Viewership measurement under both proposals would include cable/satellite
channels and out-of-market broadcast channels.
Sinclair Broadcasting Group Inc. -- which has several parings that must be divested if the
FCC doesn't relax its duopoly restriction -- urged the agency to eliminate local
television limits entirely.
Duopolies are currently permitted only in markets big enough to allow eight
separately owned stations to remain or when one of the stations is failing.
The proposal was filed as part of a flurry of comments from industry, public
advocates and individuals advising the agency on its sweeping review of
Cox Broadcasting Inc., Media General Corp. and Dispatch Broadcast Group Inc. -- all of which own both TV
stations and newspapers -- urged the FCC to eliminate the ban on owning both media
in the same market.