Justice Supports FCC Crackdown On JSAs

“The Department [of Justice] believes it is appropriate for the commission’s ownership ‘attribution’ rules to treat any two stations participating in a JSA (or agreement similar in substance to a JSA) as under common ownership,” said DOJ’s antitrust division in a Feb. 20 filing.

The Department of Justice has endorsed an effort to crack down on joint sales agreements and other sharing arrangements between TV stations — offering key Obama administration support for a reform effort being promoted by FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler.

“The Department believes it is appropriate for the commission’s ownership ‘attribution’ rules to treat any two stations participating in a JSA (or agreement similar in substance to a JSA) as under common ownership,” said DOJ’s antitrust division, in a Feb. 20 filing that was posted on the FCC’s website today.

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In its filing, DOJ also urged the FCC to carefully examine sharing agreements that don’t include JSAs and to “take action where those agreements do not serve the public interest.”

“Such arrangements often confer influence or control of one broadcast competitor over another,” DOJ said. “Failure to account for the effects of such arrangements can create opportunities to circumvent FCC ownership limits and the goals those limits are intended to advance.”

DOJ also said that TV station use of “sidecar” companies to control other stations that are “nominally owned by a separate entity” had become increasingly prevalent. “In practice, our investigations have revealed that these ‘sidecars’ often exercise little or no competitive independence from the other station,” DOJ said.

DOJ also urged the FCC to require broadcasters to file all sharing agreements at the agency so the FCC can analyze them.

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“Such analyses should consider whether collaborations will harm competition by increasing the potential for firms to coordinate over price or other strategic dimensions and/or by reducing incentives of firms to compete with one another,” DOJ said.

Wheeler could not immediately be reached for comment, and an FCC spokesman declined comment.

But Wheeler is expected to unveil an order as soon as next month that would bar broadcasters from forming new JSAs — deals under which one stations sells ad time for another station in the same market. Under the plan, the FCC also would give broadcasters up to two years to unwind existing JSAs.

Wheeler is also expected to seek public comment on what to do about other forms of shared services agreements between stations.

In response, Dennis Wharton, a spokesman for the National Association of Broadcasters, said: "NAB respectfully but strongly disagrees with the conclusions of the Justice Department's antitrust division. Joint sales agreements allow local TV stations that might otherwise go out of business to increase local news and community service, and to provide robust competition to pay TV giants.

“In an era when $200 monthly bills from consolidated broadband and cable companies are becoming the norm, it's important to remember that heavily regulated local TV stations remain free of charge to every American. NAB is disappointed with the Justice Department's conclusions, which we believe could kill jobs and damage the economics of local broadcasting."


Comments (10) -

FreeRightsUSA Nickname posted over 3 years ago
So why has the DOJ approved so many of these deals?????
tvspy Nickname posted over 3 years ago
This reminds me of a kid I knew in school, Sam Sinclair. He and his buddy Nick Nexstar made a mess during lunch. Rather than those two getting in trouble, the whole class had to stay in during recess. Let's get those station to fail so you can sell the spectrum space and keep all the money ...cmon
James Cieloha Nickname posted over 3 years ago
David Smith, Barry Faber, and their colleagues and friends at Sinclair Broadcast Group have abused and misued the JSA and SSA as well as the retransmission consent payment election much worse than other broadcasters and turn Sinclair Broadcast Group into the old PolyGram Records of the 1970's and the 1980's and the Clear Channel radio of stretching themselves too thin to the max with having way too many TV stations they choose to control including those that are waiting FCC approval for Sinclair to start controlling the TV stations themselves. I'm saying no to Sinclair's deal to acquire TV stations from Allbritton. I'd favor Disney and ABC the chance for WJLA instead of Sinclair because Disney and ABC would've done a lot superior job including performance with WJLA than if it were bought by Sinclair.
dantheflash2011 Nickname posted over 3 years ago
Good question, ABC the chance to buy WJLA and Make ABC O&O.
nefnet Nickname posted over 3 years ago
All rise for the kangaroo court, judge Wheeler presiding.
RealTVguy Nickname posted over 3 years ago
Nice to see you're back James, and back off your meds too.
Ted Hearn Nickname posted over 3 years ago
ACA Applauds DOJ For Expressing Its Views On The Coordinated Sale Of Advertising And Retransmission Consent PITTSBURGH, February 21, 2014 - American Cable Association President and CEO Matthew M. Polka issued the following statement regarding the Department of Justice's recent filing in the FCC's Media Ownership proceeding: "ACA applauds the Justice Department for making clear that activities, such as joint advertising sales and joint retransmission consent negotiations, should be deemed per se illegal unless it's reasonably necessary for some other efficiency-enhancing combination of the stations' operations. ACA has made clear in the FCC's proceeding that broadcasters' agreements to coordinate retransmission consent negotiations can be easily severed from their typical sharing agreements without harming its efficiencies, and the broadcasters have never refuted us on this point. The obvious conclusion, supported by the DOJ filing, is that the FCC should deem the coordination of either advertising sales or retransmission consent negotiations as per se attributable under the media ownership rules." About the American Cable Association: Based in Pittsburgh, the American Cable Association is a trade organization representing about 850 smaller and medium-sized, independent cable companies who provide broadband services for more than 7 million cable subscribers primarily located in rural and smaller suburban markets across America. Through active participation in the regulatory and legislative process in Washington, D.C., ACA's members work together to advance the interests of their customers and ensure the future competitiveness and viability of their business. For more information, visit http://www.americancable.org/
Roger Thornhill Nickname posted over 3 years ago
This is what happens when you have an industry regulated by academics, appointees and bureaucrats. Few of these people have ever owned or run businesses and those that have either favor the industries they worked in or are out to settle scores with industries who were their competitors. Notice that all of Tom the Cable Guy's windmill tilting has been directed at the broadcast television industry. He has been completely silent on the proposed TWC/Comcast merger which is far more dangerous then the JSAs he's been targeting.
dantheflash2011 Nickname posted over 3 years ago
Don't Worry About it Tribune/Local Tv is all Good
newsbot Nickname posted over 3 years ago
It's curious that it took the prospect of Sinclair buying WJLA to prompt the Federal Government to take a second look at JSAs. Makes you wonder why the powers that be consider the ABC affiliate in the nation's capital to be off-limits to Sinclair. Could it be the company's editorial stance regarding the current administration?
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Overnights, adults 18-49 for September 22, 2016
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