ACA Asks FCC to Change How it Grants Licenses, Supports SSA Study

By Kevin Eck 

The American Cable Association is asking FCC chairman Tom Wheeler to change the way the FCC approves station licenses.

In its letter, the ACA asked the FCC to review station deals in front of the entire commission or “en banc,” when the deal involves a shared service agreement rather than letting the Media Bureau handle it. Said the ACA, “Only by doing so can the Commission ensure that the public values of competition, localism and diversity are fully served by its reviews of transactions involving U.S. broadcast licenses.”

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In past filings with the FCC, the ACA has voiced its concern that companies using service agreements to own multiple stations in a single market could band together to squeeze more retransmission money out of cable operators.

The ACA also voiced its support of Senator John D. Rockefeller IV (D-WV) who recently asked the commission to hold off on granting anymore licenses until the effect of shared and joint service agreements can be studied.

From the ACA letter to Tom Wheeler of the FCC:

<blockquote>ACA was heartened to read the recent letter from Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John D. Rockefeller IV urging the Commission to evaluate fully the public interest impact of coordination agreements on local television markets, and wait for the issuance of the report he asked the Government Accountability Office (“GAO”) to prepare regarding the impact of coordination agreements, before permitting any further broadcast consolidation to occur. In particular, Chairman Rockefeller asked that the Commission gather evidence and review carefully and deliberately “transactions involving U.S. broadcast licenses” in which licensees have or plan to enter into coordination agreements such as Shared Services Agreements (“SSAs”) to avoid violating the Commission’s media ownership rule.</blockquote>