Commentary

FCC Shakes Up TV Station Ownership

Imagine if TV stations groups could, through ownership of VHF and UHF, get coverage of around 70% of U.S. TV homes — TV network-like levels?

Well, that looks to be a reality for major TV station groups, now that the Federal Communications Commission is changing how coverage is determined for UHF stations. Currently, the overall limit on TV station ownership is that they cannot owned local TV stations representing more than 39% of U.S. TV homes.

For example, according to TVNewsCheck, Sinclair's coverage, which now stands at 38.6% could grow to between 53.3% and 68%, through acquisitions, depending on the mix of UHF and VHF stations. This, of course, also opens the doors for big mergers.

Recent reports suggest Sinclair has been eyeing a deal to buy Tribune Media.

Overall, this could change the dynamics of how TV stations groups deal with media agencies when it comes to ringing up ad revenues. In theory, those TV station groups could go after national TV revenues — and compete with those cable networks that are around that 70% U.S. household level.

They would compete -- in theory -- with major digital media platforms that scale to that level.

But it may not be a easy as it sounds.

Media agencies still look to have 100% access to local TV stations in each market. All that may get complicated — with local TV owners at different levels of national TV coverage.

For a while now, TV stations have been experimenting with programmatic advertising selling, though a host of different platforms, all to help it compete with new digital media platforms -- as well as existing cable network TV platforms.

But to do so effectively -- and at scale -- media agency executives say they to access 100% of any given over-the-air TV market.

While big independent owners of TV stations groups, such as Sinclair Broadcast Group (38.9% U.S. household TV coverage), Nexstar Media Group (39.2%), and Tegna (31.2%), may be licking their lips over this decision, they might want to look over their shoulders.

What’s to stop network-owned TV stations from doing the same time? CBS is at 37.7% U.S. TV home coverage; NBC/Telemundo TV stations, 36.1%; Fox, 36.8%; and ABC, 22.4%. These network-owned units would also look to find big merger partners to build more national TV platforms.

The end result for any of these scenarios is easy to figure out: Grabbing more advertising revenues -- wherever it comes from and whatever name people give to it.

2 comments about "FCC Shakes Up TV Station Ownership ".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, April 21, 2017 at 9:31 a.m.

    Wayne, the typical CPMs for broadcast station spot buys are significantly higher than those one finds with many of the national cable channels, so it is unlikely that a cobbled together station list, including many weak  independent outlets in the larger markets, would compete effectively with the likes of Bravo, SyFy, USA, TNT, etc. for national ad dollars. More likely, such a station lineup would be used to launch often very profitable syndicated shows with substantial national coverage already in the bag by the station group.

  2. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, April 22, 2017 at 9:24 a.m.

    The end result is a form of totalitarian control of media. Makes it even easier for Lenin to take control of it. Lenin (a rose by any other name especially if self declared) - you know, the dude in the White House who sets policy.

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