FCC’s Media Bureau Establishes Temporary Waiver Process for Parties to Existing Local Marketing, Shared Services, or Similar Agreements to Permit the Delivery of Additional News Coverage Addressing COVID-19 Issues of Community Concern
On March 25, 2020, the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC’s) Media Bureau issued a Public Notice providing guidance to local television stations that are parties to existing Sharing Agreements (including Local Marketing Agreements (LMAs), Shared Services Agreements (SSAs), or similar agreements (including Joint Sales Agreements (JSAs)) regarding the provision of additional local coverage of coronavirus (COVID-19) issues.
As the Public Notice explains, under many Sharing Agreements news coverage on one television station (the brokered station) is produced by another in-market station (the brokering station). In some cases, the provision of more than 15% of the brokered station’s weekly programming by the brokered station may result in violation of the Local Television Ownership Rule. To give stations greater flexibility to serve the public interest by providing extra local coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic, the FCC will permit licensees to request temporary waivers of the rule.
Licensees may request waivers by email to Barbara Kreisman and David Brown of the Media Bureau’s Video Division. Waiver requests should describe how additional coverage would assist in providing community-specific information regarding COVID-19 and how such needs would be better met by allowing the production of additional news and/or informational programming by the brokering station. Temporary waivers granted under this process will be limited to the period during which COVID-19 remains a national emergency.
Should you have any questions or desire assistance in preparing a waiver request, please contact the Wiley attorney who regularly handles your station matters or one of the attorneys listed on this alert.