Senators Criticize Wheeler Over Unwinding Joint Sales Agreements

According to a report by Broadcasting & Cable, senators from both parties sent a letter to the FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler expressing their concern with the FCC’s unwinding of grandfathered Joint Sales Agreements (JSAs) as part of license transfers.

The senators, including Democrats Chuck Schumer (NY) and Barbara Mikulski (MD) and Republican Cory Gardner (CO), said they want the FCC to reverse that policy and want an answer by April 1. According to a copy of a letter to Wheeler, dated March 11, and sent by a dozen senators, they want the FCC to “(1) eliminate any conditions imposed on previously approved license transfers that require the termination of JSAs in existence before March 31, 2014; and (2) respect the statutory grandfather of JSAs when evaluating any assignments and license transfers in the future.”

The FCC said that while the agency was grandfathering JSAs, they would not allow any grandfather status to continue in the event of license transfers.  The senators argue that requiring such JSAs to be unwound violates the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016, the bill that included a 10-year extension of the FCC’s grandfathering of stations the FCC concluded, as of March 31, 2014, would otherwise be attributable as ownership interests. They said the FCC was undermining Congress’ clear intent in grandfathering the JSAs.

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