I’ve been telling you for years about the cracking foundation of the world of local broadcasting. Well, new FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler is asking his fellow Commissioners to vote March 31st on a proposal from him that would stick a rather large knife in the side of broadcast companies. TVNewsCheck describes it this way:
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler will ask his fellow commissioner to vote March 31 on a proposal that will ban joint sales agreements and joint TV station retransmission consent negotiations, a senior FCC official told reporters Thursday.
The JSA and retransmission consent bans will become effective immediately, assuming a majority of the agency’s commissioners vote in support of the regulations, an FCC source says.
A senior FCC official also says the JSA crackdown will apply to pending station transactions at the FCC, and provide up to two years for existing JSAs to unwind.
The official also says Wheeler is proposing to adopt an expedited waiver review process under which broadcasters will be able to seek waivers for JSAs.
If a broadcaster can show that a particular JSA serves the public interest, it may be able to get a waiver to continue a joint sales sharing deal, the FCC said.
You need to go read the link, because the reaction in the comments and at the end of the article are worth much.
Here’s my take. Between Joint Service Agreements, Local Marketing Agreements, Shared Service Agreements, Transitional Service Agreements, shadow corporations and probably a host of others I can’t recall, it’s really hard to tell who owns the network affiliate down the street. These things have so changed the face of broadcasting — by reducing the number of faces on the air in many, many markets — that the real losers have been the same public that broadcast spectrum is given to these people in the first place to serve. It’s all corporate doings nowadays, which makes the whole industry seem like greedy Wall Street monsters. Many more people will lose jobs, because these corporations exist to line the pockets of those who run them. Nothing wrong with that, of course, but it’s not, I suspect, what that spectrum was originally intended to create.
The upside is that this move will put pressure on broadcasters to participate in spectrum auctions, which will grow the mobile Web, while will continue to advance what Jay Rosen calls “The Great Horizontal.” One to one communications, without middlemen, is one of the beauties of the network, and broadcasters’ one-to-many model is increasingly archaic. Ahead lies a reworking of everything, including many laws that were created for the days of one-to-many, and frankly, I can’t wait. Broadcasting will continue, at the very least as cable channels, but this proposal, if approved on March 31st, means a major blow to certain groups of people who thought their money tree had permanent roots.
And think about it, one potential end to this is the irrelevance of Aereo, which requires broadcast signals in order to justify its business model.
The Obama Administration supports broadcasters against Aereo and then turns around and says, “We’ll eliminate your ownership loopholes and end consolidated retransmission negotiations.” Frankly, broadcasters would have preferred it to be the other way around.
Honestly, let the future in, people. Let the future in.