Kentucky Senator Introduces Bill to Repeal Broadcast Ownership Limits

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It would also allow joint negotiations with big tech companies

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul has introduced a bill that, if passed, would repeal all broadcast ownership limits. The draft bill, titled the “Local News and Broadcast Media Preservation Act,” moves to abolish local radio and television ownership rules; all in the name of helping broadcasters better compete with Big Tech.

According to a press release introducing Paul’s bill, this proposed legislation “would give local broadcasters and newspapers much-needed relief from outdated government restrictions that are currently threatening their ability to succeed in an evolving media environment.”

In the release, Paul said his bill would exempt print, broadcast and digital news organizations from federal antitrust laws and authorities, such as the Department of Justice, to allow them to compete and negotiate with national tech companies. Further, he said the legislation would allow local broadcast companies to merge without government interference, which would “allow those broadcasters to better compete against these tech giants.”

This battle for deregulation is not a new one. Paul’s bill is a simplified version of the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act (JCPA) draft that was recently considered by a Senate committee.

At the The Media Institute’s Communications Forum this February, NAB President and CEO Curtis LeGeyt said Congress should act to rein in what he called “the gatekeeping ability of the Big Tech giants who are stifling the economics of local news.” The NAB supports passage of the JCPA, which LeGeyt said would allow stations to jointly negotiate the terms and conditions for their local content when it is accessed through the large tech platforms.

(Photo by Greg Nash-Pool/Getty Images)

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Of course, being introduced so late in the Congressional session with no other declared political support, the bill has little chance of becoming law in this session of Congress, notes the Broadcast Law Blog and Broadcasting & Cable. It’s also worth remembering that movement in the legislative branch continues to be stifled due to an ongoing political gridlock as the FCC continues its work with a 2-2 partisan split and the Gigi Sohn nomination remains stalled.



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