Why is the FCC suddenly taking a hard look at sidecar/shell company arrangements?
A Nov. 25 letter to FCC Chairman Thomas Wheeler from Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va. -- who ostensibly is Wheeler's boss as chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee -- may shed some light.
Rockefeller raises concerns about the current climate of broadcasting companies evading FCC market ownership restrictions, noting:
"These protections were put into place to preserve diversity of voices and localism in broadcast operations and to maintain the integrity of the nation's airwaves. In order to achieve those goals, the FCC's rules limit the number of stations an entity can own in a local market, ensuring that no single company exert dominant control of the broadcast media in that market."
Rockefeller states that he has asked the Government Accountability Office to investigate the proliferation of shared services agreements and other broadcaster coordination arrangements, "particularly in situations where assuming full ownership of a station would violate the FCC's media ownership limits."
The senator continues, "Broadcasters remain stewards of the nation's airwaves and the public's trust based on an FCC-granted license and their concurrent duty to operate in the public interest. Owners and operators of broadcast licensees must live up to those responsibilities ... I will be watching your actions closely to make sure that your review of media ownership activity properly comports with diversity, localism, and ultimately the public interest."
Pretty forceful. Not that I believe in karma, but for some reason, Raese's nasty 1984 Senate campaign against Rockefeller comes to mind ...
Finally, the first of the expense reports for the governor's European vacation -- I mean, trade summit to Spain, France, Germany, Italy and Switzerland -- has come in.
Angela Mascia, international development office representative, reported total expenses of $12,443.70 for the 13-day mid-October trip.
That included airfare of $2,708. In addition to flights to and from the U.S., that included Paris-Dusseldorf, Dusseldorf-Frankfurt, Frankfurt-Venice, Venice-Florence, and Florence-Zurich flights.
Lodging totaled $5,471, ranging from $277 a night (U.S.) at the Hyatt Regency in Dusseldorf to $540 a night at the Paris Marriott Opera House Hotel. Meals, ground transportation and miscellaneous totaled $4,264.
Reach Phil Kabler at ph...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1220.