Court Smacks down FCC's Ban on Joint Sales Agreements

The FCC just lost a big on it court and the viewers lose out as well. 

The U.S. Court of Appeals in Philadelphia has struck down the FCC's two-year-old ban on joint sales agreements between TV broadcasters.

This is where one station runs another station in the market, despite the fact that they don't own the station. 

It can give one station group a bigger monopoly on a particular market and the FCC was trying to stop that. 

But the appeals court said that the FCC cannot ban JSAs "unless it has, within the previous four years, fulfilled its obligation to review that rule and determine whether it is in the public interest. Here the commission put the cart before the horse," the court said.

“Nearly a decade has passed since the commission last completed a review of its broadcast ownership rules. These rules lay the groundwork for how the broadcast industry operates and have major implications for television, radio, and newspaper organizations. Although federal law commands the commission to conduct a review of its rules every four years, the 2006 cycle is the last one it has finished; the 2010 and 2014 reviews remain open.

"Several broadcast owners have petitioned us to wipe all the rules off the books in response to this delay — creating, in effect, complete deregulation in the industry. This is the administrative law equivalent of burning down the house to roast the pig, and we decline to order it. However, we note that this remedy, while extreme, might be justified in the future if the commission does not act quickly to carry out its legislative mandate.”

This is a big win for the large broadcast groups that continue to shrink TV ownership to a handful of companies that control a large part of what viewers see. 

Here in Jacksonville, Cox owns the CBS and Fox station and the local newscasts on both stations is the exact same. Tegna owns the ABC and NBC station and it's the same thing with them when it comes to the news. Viewers in Jacksonville have less choices for their local news. This same scenario is being played out in markets across the country. JSA's make it even worse. 

This is a big win for broadcasters, but a big loss for viewers. 

H/T TVNewsCheck