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FCC Votes to Restrict Joint Service Agreements

fcc logoThe FCC voted today to tighten media ownership rules by cracking down on joint service agreements, The Hill reports:

Under Monday’s 3-2 vote, a broadcast company that sells 15 percent or more of a station’s advertising will be considered as owning that station. “What we’re doing is closing off what has been a growing end-run around [the FCC’s ownership] rules,” FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said Monday.

“JSAs have been used, skirting the existing rules, to create market power that stacks the deck against small companies seeking to enter the broadcast business,” he said. The order allows broadcast stations using JSAs to apply for an exemption to the new ownership rules and requires the agency to reply to a station’s request within 90 days.

“We make it clear that JSAs are appropriate when they further those statutory goals of competition, diversity and localism,” Wheeler said. Republicans on the FCC slammed the agency’s move to constrain cooperation between broadcasters. Commissioner Ajit Pai called it “the most problematic item I’ve encountered” during his time at the agency.

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