Lawmaker Expresses Concern Over TV Ownership Rules

By Kevin Eck 

Rep. Anna Eshoo is asking Congress not to change TV ownership rules passed by the FCC last year in its final spending bill.

The Hill reports, Eshoo said in a statement, “A lack of ownership diversity, in particular, continues to plague the broadcast industry. It is with this in mind that I express my deep concern with any effort through the appropriations process that would seriously undermine the FCC’s media ownership rules and our efforts to promote greater broadcast ownership diversity.”

“I oppose such policy riders and urge my colleagues to do the same,” she wrote at another point.

Leadership and appropriators are haggling over a series of so-called policy riders that will be included in a spending bill that must pass by next Friday in order to fund the government. A final deal has not been reached, and almost no one knows which riders will be included.

Republicans and even some Democrats have raised concerns about rules the FCC passed last year to close a “loophole” that allowed companies to have an ownership stake in two major broadcast TV stations in the same market.

Broadcast owners are not allowed to control a stake in more than one major station in any market. But the FCC found that broadcasters could get around that by striking joint sales agreements, in which one station controls much of the advertising sales on multiple stations. The FCC ruled that any company selling at least 15 percent of ad time at a station has an ownership stake, closing off the “loophole.”

The FCC gave broadcasters until early 2016 to unwind those deals. But broadcasters and their powerful lobbying arm oppose the rules, and have called on Congress to act.

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