The Federal Communications Commission handed local TV station owners two big defeats Monday. The FCC made it tougher for TV stations in the same market to sell advertising together. The so-called Joint Sales Agreements, or JSAs, Michael Manis have become increasingly common in recent years as smaller stations tap into the efficiencies of having one sales force sell for multiple stations.
The FCC’s new rules will ban JSAs in which one station sells 15 percent or more of the advertising time of another station.
The JSAs have become especially useful to stations that could not get FCC approval to outright manage another station in the market. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said stations have used JSAs as an “end-run” around FCC ownership rules.
Dennis Wharton, the National Association of Broadcasters executive vice president of communications, said, "For a decade, Republican- and Democratically-controlled FCCs have approved JSAs, which allow free and local TV stations to survive in a hyper-competitive world dominated by pay TV Giants. That model is now declared illegal, based on the arguments of pay TV companies whose collaborative interconnect advertising sales practices make JSAs seem pale by comparison.”
Some local broadcasters have said “unwinding” the JSAs would mean stations would have to cut back on spending. A couple of weeks ago, Marci Burdick, senior vice president for Schurz Communications which owns 10 stations and operates three JSAs, told a congressional subcommittee that ending JSAs would hurt local broadcasters:
“For instance, our JSA in Wichita provides the only Spanish local newscast in the state of Kansas. In Springfield, Missouri, our JSA helped take a struggling station to one that is winning national awards for local news coverage.