Soon, your local TV stations may be owned by fewer companies if the National Associations of Broadcasters (NAB) and local ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC owners get their way.
At issue here is the FCC rules limiting anyone from owning one of the top four TV networks in a single market. For example, one company can not own both a FOX affiliate and an ABC affiliate in the same market. Now, local TV station owners, along with the NAB, want the FCC to change these to allow TV stations to own multiple big four TV stations.
“Indeed, rather than making the top four rule more restrictive, Section 202(h) of the 1996 Telecommunications Act requires the Commission to either eliminate or at least loosen it. In our meeting, NAB shared the attached slides, which illustrate the competitive landscape television and radio broadcasters face and demonstrate the great and growing challenges local stations are experiencing in competing for audiences and advertising revenues in today’s marketplace.” Said the National Association of Broadcasters, in a filing with the FCC.
Already, TV station owners can own more than one TV station in a market, but it just can’t be one of the big four. Now the FCC has until December 27, 2023, to issue a decision on this issue by court order.
Historically, the FCC has tried to create competition in each market. In 1975 for example, the FCC banned owning a daily newspaper and a television or radio station in the same local market. This was done to prevent one owner from controlling the news in a single market. Now, though, with the internet and thousands of options for news and information, many believe these rules are dated and hurt local news.
Recently, many small local TV stations have been bought up by larger companies. Now, if this rule changes, there could be a rush of mergers and deals for larger TV stations offering ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC as companies look to grow in order to compete for sports and advertising.