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June 12,201 4

The Honorable Thomas Wheeler


Federal Communications Commission

445 lth Street, S.W.

Washington, D.C. 2{)554

Dear Chairman Wheeler:

Although the nature of news media is rapidly changing, a robust and vital local broadcast news

industry remains critically important to our constituents. Local newscasts are a key source of

daily information to citizens of our states, especially in smaller or more rural markets and

particularly in times of emergency. Unfortunately, market pressures in the broadcasting industry

are making it harder for smaller stations to survive. If regional stations go dark, our constituents

will be the ultimate losers.

We are concerned, therefore, that the Federal Commtmications Commission's recently

promulgated rules with respect to Joint Sales Agreements will further undermine the ability of

local broadcasters to serve their communities. While we appreciate your desire to promote

competition in the marketplace, the new rules are interrupting established business practice and

creating substantial uncertainty in the broadcasting market. Ultimately, we fear the result will be

less competition since certain broadcasters may be forced to cease operations, which would harm

not only the broadcasters themselves but also the viewers they serve.

Specifically, as a result of the FCC's decision to count JSAs between television stations as

ownership interests, many existing agreements will have to be unwound unless specific waivers

are granted. These existing agreements were consistent with the law and rules at the time they

were executed, and business plans have been built around them. Forcing the broadcasters to rely

on the speculative possibility of a waiver creates substantial business challenges.

In addition to the business uncertainty the new rules create with respect to existing agreements,

we are concerned that the new JSA rules going forward will unnecessarily foreclose many

agreements that have resulted in improved local service and a more robust broadcast industry.

This is especially true in smaller markets where stations may, absent a JSA, struggle to generate

sufticient advertising revenue to support the production of locally oriented programming.

Finally, we are disturbed by reports that new processing guidelines looking at JSAs and other

sharing arrangements have caused applications for broadcast station transfers to be stalled at the

FCC. These delays create further market uncertainty and challenges.

Fortunately, we believe the Commission can successfully address these concerns within the

framework of the existing rules. Accordingly, we urge the Commission to adopt a waiver policy

that does not penalize JSAs that were structured and executed prior to the issuance of the new



In addition, the Commission's waiver policy going forward should favorably regard, for

example, JSAs that promote more or better local news, public affairs and emergency

information, diverse programming such as foreign language and expanded ownership

opportunities for minorities and women in broadcasting. Finally, we hope the Commission will

take swift action on pending television station transactions in the very near future.

Thank you for consideration of these issues.


Charles E. Schumer

Barbara A. Mikulski

United States Senator

United States Senator

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Robert P. Casey Jr.

United States Senator

United States Senator

Kirsten E. Gillibrand

United States Senator

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