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Push to repeal exclusivity rules continues

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s controversial effort to repeal the exclusivity rules is far from sailing through a vote by the five-member panel and, in fact, has attracted opposition from key members of Congress, but that opposition and the relative silence on Wheeler’s proposal among commissioners provide no assurance to broadcasters that the effort is dead.

To the contrary, it’s safe to assume the Chairman is continuing to push at least two of his colleagues to greenlight the repeal despite a report that was published in an industry news site last week.

The story suggested that lack of support from other commissioners, coupled with congressional opposition, had prompted Wheeler to place his proposal on “indefinite hold”, though there is no such official designation.  Further, high ranking agency staff have indicated Wheeler has not relented in advancing his measure.

Wheeler’s inability to secure any support for the measure since he introduced the notion in August and the absence of any discussion at the FCC meetings held since then have been interpreted by some in the industry that the idea is doomed.

But TAB, which orchestrated meetings on the issue with each of the five commissioners’ offices at the FCC in August, continues working with NAB and other industry groups to keep the effort at bay. It’s likely that the issue will remain a threat so long as Wheeler remains at the commission.

Still, leading lawmakers have been vocal in urging Wheeler to back off the repeal, saying the effort was “premature”, especially as Congress is considering potential revisions of the federal compulsory copyright license.

The bipartisan statement represented the views of the co-chairs of the Senate Judiciary and Commerce committees, both of which have jurisdiction over the industry in the upper chamber of Congress.

Texas broadcasters are encouraged to educate their lawmakers about the importance of the exclusivity rules and the damage that would be done to viewers and stations if the rules are adopted. The ex parte notice TAB filed after its August meetings at the FCC provide an excellent overview and can be shared with members of Congress.

Questions?  Contact TAB's Oscar Rodriguez or call (512) 322-9944.

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