While the Federal Communications Commission last week agreed to hold off on reviewing its media ownership rules, one proposal with a potentially huge impact on TV in Evansville and other smaller markets nationwide is "very much on the table," according to one FCC commissioner.
Ajit Pai, the commissioner who is best known for his support of AM radio revitalization, told TVNewsCheck's Doug Halonen that the proposal to put an end ot shared services agreements (SSAs) that allow a company to have more than one station in a smaller market is still alive, although he hopes that the idea dies.
"That would work tremendous hardship on broadcasters, especially smaller areas," Pai said. "We are talking about stations in the 100 or 200 biggest markets, which have a miniscule portion of the revenue of, say. a New York City station. A JSA or SSA can mean the difference between consolidating operations and saving costs" and going out of business.
Currently, for example, Nexstar has two SSAs in our region; the company owns WEHT in Evansville and WTWO in Terre Haute and operates Mission Broadcasting's WTVW and WAWV. If the proposal now before the FCC is implemented, those operations would have to be "unwound" within two years. You can imagine the impact that could have on WTVW and WAWV ... and imagine that multiplied many times across the country.