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FCC: Proposal to End Virtual Duopolies ‘Very Much on the Table’

Despite indications the FCC has tabled a decision to end joint sales agreements until the commission could study the impact of the proposal on minority ownership, commissioner Ajit Pai recently told TVNewsCheck, “It is very much on the table.”

Pai told TVNewsCheck he felt the proposal to eliminate the agreements would hurt smaller broadcasters. “We are talking about stations in the 100 or 200 biggest markets, which have a miniscule portion of the revenue of, say, a New York City station. A JSA or SSA (shared service agreements) can mean the difference between consolidating operations and saving costs.”

Shared service agreements allow broadcasters like Nexstar to operate two stations in markets where outright ownership would be prohibited. Nexstar has agreements to operate many Mission Broadcasting owned stations. In Little Rock, Nexstar operates both the FOX affiliate and the NBC affiliate, but only owns KARK. KLRT is owned by Mission.

Under the proposal, JSA’s would need to be “unwound” within two years or the stations would count as being wholly owned.

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