House panel to examine media ownership issues

The House Commerce Subcommittee on Communications will hold a hearing next week to discuss media ownership issues.

“As the communications and technology sectors continue to innovate, it is imperative that our laws that govern media ownership evolve,” subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) said in a statement.

According to the hearing announcement, the subcommittee is expected to discuss recent actions at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to crack down on resource-sharing arrangements between broadcasters.

In March, the agency voted 3-2 to consider any stations that share 15 percent or more of their advertising sales resources to be owned by the same company.

The vote effectively banned these advertising sales resource-sharing arrangements, as a company can own only one of the top four stations in any market.

While supporters applauded the agency's move, critics — including broadcasters and Republicans on Capitol Hill — criticized the agency for going forward with new ownership rules without first completing the overdue 2010 quadrennial review of its rules.

The National Association of Broadcasters sued the FCC over its new rules last week, following a lawsuit from earlier in the month over guidance issued by the agency’s Media Bureau in March, warning broadcasters that it would more intensely scrutinize resource-sharing deals when looking at broadcast mergers.

Walden said he looks “forward to a spirited discussion of the media ownership landscape and expect it to inform the work we do on our update of the Communications Act” — the FCC’s foundational law which was last updated in 1996.

The hearing is scheduled for June 11 at 10:30 a.m. Witnesses have not yet been announced.