FCC's Lake: FCC Not At War Over JSAs
The FCC’s new crackdown on joint sales agreements is not part of an agency effort to spur TV stations to participate in the incentive auction — or so said Bill Lake, chief of the FCC’s Media Bureau, on Monday.
“The FCC is not having a war with over the air broadcasters,” Lake said at a breakfast hosted by the law firm Garvey Schubert Barer during the NAB Show in Las Vegas.
Lake said the JSA crackdown that the FCC approved in a 3-2 vote last Monday (March 31) was originally proposed by the agency in 2004. He also said that while the FCC regularly granted new JSAs over the past decade, the agency also has regularly warned broadcasters that a crackdown might be coming.
In addition, he said that the spectrum that the FCC needs to make the incentive auction a success is mostly in larger markets, and that the about 130 existing JSAs are mostly in smaller markets. “So there’s really a disconnect there,” Lake said.
Lake also said that broadcasters could seek waivers to continue JSAs on two basic grounds: That the sharing deals don’t result in a broker station getting undue influence over a brokered station’s programming, or that the deals somehow serve the public interest in such a way as to warrant special consideration.
He said the FCC will entertain requests for both types of waivers but that ones based on programming independence face an uphill battle. “I frankly think it would be very difficult for someone to justify a waiver of that particular ilk,” he said.
Lake also said that if the FCC adopts a pending proposal to eliminate the sports blackout rule, blackouts are likely to continue but with sports leagues making the calls.
The sports blackout rule currently requires cable and satellite TV operators to black out sports programming that sports leagues, such as the NFL, black out on local stations.