Thursday, February 9, 2017

Pai Ending War On Broadcasters

For most of his tenure as FCC Chairman, Tom Wheeler was at war with the broadcast industry. It started with an out-of-the-blue sucker-punch disallowing joint sales agreements (JSAs) by broadcasters.

Even though JSAs have been integral to the growth and profitability of broadcasters for decades, Wheeler initiated a rule that penalized JSA arrangements for ownership attribution purposes. New Chairman Ajit Pai immediately reversed the FCC's ban on JSAs. In another move to reclaim lost ground, Pai is expected to reinstate the UHF discount, and to lift the broadcast ownership cap above 39 percent.

According to The Hill,  not far behind will be the end of the TV-newspaper cross-ownership ban, which has long since outlived its utility and sustainability.

Each of these actions, while not fodder for daily news, is a big deal for the broadcast industry, and represents millions of dollars for the bottom line. As the failed broadcast incentive auction nears an end, Pai has thrown his weight behind ATSC 3.0, a cutting-edge technology that is expected to give life and value to broadcast spectrum.

Where Wheeler fought the rollout of the new standard, Pai is rolling out the red carpet. Along with his efforts to revitalize AM radio, the war on broadcasters is officially over.

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