NAB asks FCC to open up broadcast ownership regs to fight MVPD consolidation

The NAB is imploring the FCC to revise rules governing broadcast station ownership given the current wave of MVPD consolidation.

"While the commission continues to permit mega-mergers to create pay TV behemoths like the new Charter and AT&T/DirecTV, television broadcasters remain subject to rules forbidding the combination of two local television stations in most markets and banning or limiting the common ownership of TV stations with other media in local markets," the National Association of Broadcasters letter said.

The lobbying group claims that with the recent closure of Charter Communications' (NASDAQ: CHTR) purchase of Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks, the top four MVPDs now control 79 percent of U.S. pay-TV homes.

"Broadcast TV stations struggle to compete in a video marketplace dominated by consolidated pay TV providers that dwarf in scale and scope even the largest local broadcast television companies," NAB said.

Attempting to paint a David vs. Goliath scenario, NAB noted that Comcast has a market capitalization 142 times larger than station owners such as Media General, Scripps and Nexstar.

Nexstar is currently in the process of divesting numerous station holdings so it can dip below the 39 percent market control threshold and complete its purchase of Media General.

"Particularly in light of the still increasing consolidation in the pay TV industry, the commission must fulfill its statutory mandate in the pending quadrennial reviews and repeal or modify the asymmetric broadcast ownership restrictions that tilt the competitive playing field against local TV stations," NAB added. "Without the ability to achieve vital economies of scale and scope, local broadcasters cannot compete effectively in today's fragmented video programming market against multichannel and online providers unrestricted by FCC ownership limits."

For more:
- read this NAB statement

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