U.S. FCC’s latest move could lead to more broadcast TV mergers

“In a divided vote today, the Federal Communications Commission took steps that could lead to more consolidation among TV broadcasters, reducing the number of sources of local news,” Jacob Kastrenakes reports for The Verge. “Today’s changes revolve around the media ownership cap — a limit on how many households a TV or radio broadcaster is allowed to reach.”

“The rules are meant to promote diversity of media ownership, giving consumers access to different content and viewpoints. The cap currently prevents a company from reaching no more than 39 percent of US households with broadcast TV,” Kastrenakes reports. “Large broadcasters hate the cap because it prevents them from getting even bigger. And since Trump took office and Ajit Pai was named chairman of the FCC, they’ve been lobbying to have it revised.”

“The FCC’s vote today starts to do that. First, it reinstates a rule known as the ‘UHF discount,’ which lets broadcasters have a bigger reach in areas where they use a certain type of technology. And second, it starts plans to revisit and raise the media ownership cap,” Kastrenakes reports. “It’s hard to say exactly how much the initial action will change. Major broadcasters, including Sinclair and Univision, are said to be bumping up against the cap… During a Senate hearing last month, Pai said that he’s also interested in lifting FCC restrictions that prevent the local consolidation of newspapers, radio stations, and TV stations.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Put ’em together, take ’em apart. Lather, rinse, repeat. Ask Carl Icahn how profitable that is.

Money for nothin’ and chicks for free. Now that ain’t workin’ that’s the way you do it. Lemme tell ya them guys ain’t dumb. – Dire Straits


  1. Broadcasting is going to be increasingly unprofitable for some broadcasters. I expect to see a shirkage of broadcast stations as some sell back their frequencies to the FCC for resale as mobile data bandwidth.

  2. Broadcasting as it has been practiced is almost a dinosaur and not the best use of the limited spectrum. Not many get their TV OTA and fewer will over time and the same is true for Radio.

    I myself use DirectTV Now- having switched from SlingTV and a number of stand alone apps for TV and use Tune-In Radio Pro for the little radio I listen to via my iPhone,iPad or Mac.

    As to consolidation of media, I think it largely does not serve the public well. More competitive markets with more players is usually best.

    1. My father worked in broadcast TV from 1948 (when WBAP went on the air in Fort Worth) until the end of the 1990s. One of my earliest memories of him discussing business was in the very early 1950s, when he predicted that pay TV would one day displace free over-the-air broadcasting because “greed will always win out over the public interest in the end.” He did not live to see the day, but it appears to be upon us.

      Broadcast stations operate under an FCC mandate to serve the community where they are licensed; cable operators and streaming channels are under no such obligation.

      While urban dwellers with fast broadband will still be able to access most national programming, those who live in rural areas or simply cannot afford cable/broadband will be cut off entirely. Local news and weather will disappear for everyone, as will the sense of community in areas that lose all their local media sources.

  3. “Clear Channel for TV ! ” . . . Does anyone remember what local radio was like before Clear Channel took it over ? Small towns actually had “local DJ’s” and they would talk about local topics. Clear Channel replaced all of that with pre-recorded national radio hosts, in a format custom made for the maximum airing of commercials . . . they want to do the same thing for TV. Soon every city will have 2 TV stations.

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