WASHINGTON, D.C. (March 31, 2014): The Federal Communications Commission voted today to ultimately do away with those joint sales agreements (JSAs) for which there are few or no public interest benefits. Under the new rule, television broadcasters will be barred from forming new JSAs where one station sells 15 percent or more of the advertising time of another separately-owned station in the same market. The Minority Media and Telecommunications Council applauds the Commission’s decision, particularly with respect to shared services agreements (SSAs), under which the “licensee” often holds nothing but a bare FCC license and lacks any meaningful authority over financing, staffing, or programming.
According to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, “JSAs have been used to skirt existing rules to create market power that stacks the deck against small companies seeking to enter the broadcast business,” and the new rule “is a win for competition, and it’s a win for common sense.”
MMTC President David Honig stated, “MMTC recognizes, as has the Commission, that there may be unique circumstances where a sidecar arrangement could serve the public interest. The Commission has wisely left the door open to enable operators to demonstrate that their structure is an exception to the rule against ownership shams, such as the genuine incubation of a minority or woman new entrant, or the rare instance where a JSA or SSA is the only way to save a struggling station.”
Regulatory uncertainty has been a major cause of lack of access to capital for new entrants; thus, MMTC hopes the Commission will provide clear guidance on what it is looking for in waiver requests.
The Minority Media and Telecommunications Council (MMTC) is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting and preserving equal opportunity and civil rights in the mass media, telecommunications and broadband industries, and closing the digital divide. MMTC is generally recognized as the nation’s leading advocate for minority advancement in communications.