Finance

FCC votes to allow some broadcasters to buy more TV stations

FCC votes to allow some broadcasters to buy more TV stations

The FCC also passed an order that reinstates the "UHF discount", which will allow broadcasters to discount the audience they reach through ultra-high frequency airwaves when calculating compliance with the national television ownership rule.

Sen. Edward MarkeyEd MarkeySenate Dems want Trump to release ethics waivers, visitor logs Dems ask FCC to postpone vote on business data reforms Senate Dem: Trump team moving U.S. to militaristic solution in North Korea MORE (D-Mass.) blasted the Federal Communications Commission Thursday for a new order easing regulations on special data access lines that critics say will reduce competition and increase prices. That includes hospitals and schools, for example, which tap this so-called "business data services" market - a different pipe than, say, your usual home internet - to transmit large quantities of data quickly and reliably.

"The commission just wrapped up and put a bow on a huge gift for those large broadcasters, with ambitious dreams of more consolidation", Clyburn said.

Former Chairman Tom Wheeler took up the issue in an item circulated last summer and it was eliminated last fall. "This represents a rational first step in media ownership reform policy allowing free and local broadcasters to remain competitive with multinational pay TV giants and broadband providers", said NAB President and CEO Gordon Smith in a statement. The FCC grandfathered in existing station groups that exceeded the cap but said the exception could not be transfered in a sale.

The vote was 2-1, with Democratic Commissioner Mignon Clyburn dissenting. He promised the FCC would launch such a review later this year.

Pai, however, argued that the elimination of the discount needed to go hand-in-hand with an examination of the media ownership cap. More than a decade of FCC data revealed 73 percent of the BDS market is only served by one provider and 97 percent served by only one or two.

Netflix Nears 100 Million Subs Mark
Meanwhile, Bloomberg reported that analysts had predicted that Netflix would add 5.49 million new users in the first quarter. EMarketer estimates Netflix will have 128 million viewers in the United States this year, up 6.6% from last year.

A Sinclair/Tribune deal "would be bad news for consumers" because it would reduce independent voices in some markets and could lead to higher pay-TV bills because Sinclair charges more than Tribune for cable companies to carry their stations, Pelosi and Pallone wrote. The EU encouraged the FCC to rethink this proposal to consider how it might affect European companies.

"Price regulation - that is, the government setting the rates, terms and conditions for special access services - is seductive", he said.

"Instead of taking action to promote competition and deployment, serve the public interest, and prevent the exercise of market power that is a drag on the USA economy, Chairman Pai and Commissioner O'Reilly have approved an Order that doubles down on incumbent market power, forcing businesses, hospitals, schools, and ultimately consumers to pay more for essential connectivity".

The commission also will not regulate prices for TDM services at speeds below 45 Mbps in markets that are determined to be competitive. The changes will be phased in over three years.

Clyburn complained that the new rules define a market as competitive even if it has only one bulk broadband provider, as long as a competitor has access lines within half a mile.

The FCC is proposing the elimination of the 2015 Technology Transitions Order, which was created to ensure consumers and competition are protected as carriers swap their networks from legacy services to modern networks.


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