So today, the two Dem Commissioners are obviously saying this is an attack on
"localism," and the Chairman predictably mouths his localism platitudes, while
in fact not giving a damn:
"It's amusing then (to use an unduly charitable construction) to hear such
vociferous objections from this bench to simply asking the question whether we
have authority, given that the same commissioners previously answered it-in the
affirmative. In 2013, the FCC adopted the UHF Discount Notice of Proposed
Rulemaking, which stated, 'we believe the Commission retains the authority to
modify both the national audience reach restriction and the UHF discount,
provided such action is undertaken in a rulemaking proceeding separate from the
Commission's quadrennial review of the broadcast ownership rules pursuant to
He's peeved because in 2016, the FCC decided they could remove the obsolete UHF
discount, without first going back to Congress. The one court had previously
said that both the national cap and the UHF discount were off limits for the
FCC, because both were established by congressonal action. He sort of has a
point. Of course, (a) NO ONE in Congress uttered a single complaint in 2016,
and (b) his response is to now do the opposite, re-establish the obsolete UHF
discount AND remove the national cap, also without going back to Congress or
the courts. Theoretically, he's "just asking." We know how he ignores any
response. Another farce.
The history is explained here:
"Congress partially rolled back the cap increase by including a provision in
the 2004 Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA) directing the Commission "to
modify its rules to set the national cap at 39 percent of national television
households."15 The CAA further amended Section 202(h) of the 1996 Act to
require a quadrennial review of the Commission's broadcast ownership rules,
rather than the previously mandated biennial review. In doing so, however,
Congress excluded consideration of 'any rules relating to the 39 percent
national audience reach limitation' from the quadrennial review requirement.
Prior to the enactment of the CAA, several parties had appealed the
Commission's 2002 Biennial Review Order to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the
Third Circuit (Third Circuit). In June 2004, the Third Circuit found that the
challenges to the Commission's actions with respect to the national audience
reach cap and the UHF discount were moot as a result of Congress's action."
My bet is, Congress had, and has, no clue what the UHF discount is, and in
fact, only cared about this national 39% cap. And the argument they used at the
time was "voices heard," which really had nothing to do with the national cap
anyway. Regardless, the only thing this FCC should be doing is going back to
the courts and ask them first. The Chairman apparently thinks you can right a
wrong by committing another wrong.
The right thing to do here is to push the court and/or Congress, to eliminate
the UHF discount, which is truly ridiculous these days, and to eliminate the
national cap. If this Chairman is honest about "eliminating unnecessary regs,"
that's the honest course of action. But this Chairman has proven to be anything
BUT honest. A real phony, in fact. No doubt, he's worried that doing so would
easily result in the UHF discount being re-eliminated instantly, but the
national cap being retained. For some reason, he finds it impossible to just do
his job, without forcing a solution he has pre-ordained.
Still, this is so very secondary to the issue about net neutrality. It's just
one more example of how this Chairman is in bed with a tiny handful of special
interests. Just combine the effects of eliminating national and local
owenership caps, and net neutrality, and see what results. I might argue that
if net neutrality MANDATES were retained, then this stuff about station group
ownership caps would really become irrelevant. It's the combination that
doesn't pass the smell test.
The Chairman needs to go. A true extremist ideologue, gone open loop. Behaves
exactly as a crook would behave.
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