“While we are not convinced that the existing limitations on broadcast ownership as a whole are appropriate or necessary in today’s competitive media marketplace, we have particular apprehension about this proposed change and its effect on the business decisions of broadcast station group owners,” they wrote in the letter.
Current laws set a cap on the amount of the country’s viewing population that can be served by stations owned by a single company. A discount for some bands of the spectrum, known as ultra high frequency bands, reduces the number of viewers of those stations that are counted when calculating the audience for that regulatory limit.
Last week, the FCC announced that at an upcoming meeting it would be discussing a proposal to eliminate the special metric for ultra high frequency stations.
The lawmakers warn that that change could force companies to either get rid of their stations or violate the law.
“Changes to the current calculation could potentially drive existing station groups and those with pending transactions over the new limit, forcing them to make divestitures to comply with the law or to proceed with their proposed transaction,” they wrote. “This outcome would unfairly punish businesses that have complied with the commission’s rules in good faith and that entered into transactions in reliance on the commission’s rules.”