/// FCC Proposed Rule Change Will Cap Size of TV Groups

September 26, 2013  |  Media Week

In what is bound to be a highly contentious rulemaking, the Federal Communications Commission voted 2-1 along party lines to begin the process of changing how TV stations are counted towards the 39 percent national ownership cap. It's hard not see politics at play in the notice for proposed rulemaking, coming off the heels of a spate of big TV station deals, including Gannett-Belo, Tribune-Local TV, Media General-Young Broadcasting, and Sinclair-Allbritton, and just announced Wednesday, Sinclair-New Age Media. The proposed rule would take away the 50 percent UHF discount adopted in 1985 to take into account disparity of signal power between UHF and VHF stations. Since the digital TV transition, that disparity is nullified. If the rule were eliminated, TV groups as of Sept. 26 that exceed the 39 percent cap solely because of the termination of the UHF discount would be grandfathered in. Though the rule as currently proposed would not affect current pending TV deals, it would stop any further consolidation dead in its tracks. While agreeing that the nation's transition to DTV has eroded the basis for the UHF discount, Commissioner Ajit Pai, the sole Republican on the agency, dissented on the rule. First, Pai suggested that the discount should not be eliminated without reviewing the 39 percent ownership cap, which is as dated as the UHF discount and hasn't been reviewed by the FCC since 2002. He also took issue with how the FCC proposed to grandfather the rule to Sept.

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FCC Proposed Rule Change Will Cap Size of TV Groups

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