Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John D. Rockefeller IV has asked FCC chairman Tom Wheeler to delay ruling on upcoming station group mergers until the Government Accountability Office can complete its report on shared service agreements.
The request covers recent Sinclair and Nexstar purchases as well as the merger between Gannett and Belo.
TVNewsCheck reports the Democratic senator from West Virginia wrote, “Given the current questions about the impact of SSAs on the broadcast landscape the FCC should approach each of the pending transactions cautiously. While I am not taking a position on any particular transaction, I believe that the FCC should collect all information necessary to understand the scope and effect of the SSAs envisioned by the deals.”
In May, Rockefeller asked the GAO to take a closer look at the use of joint service agreements and shared service agreements and whether they contribute to higher retrans rates and skirt FCC ownership rules.
Rockefeller adds his voice to the American Cable Association as well as Time Warner Cable which recently spoke out against Mission Broadcasting’s recent acquisition of two stations in Binghamton, NY, warning the FCC approval of the Mission purchase would hurt consumers in the long run.