Shimkus introduces legislation to protect local TV broadcasting companies

U.S. Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL) introduced legislation on Tuesday that will protect local television broadcasters that hold Joint Sales Agreements (JSAs) approved before the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) policy changed to prohibit the practice.

Co-sponsors of the bipartisan bill include Reps. Renee Ellmers (R-NC), Billy Long (R-MO), Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD), Kurt Schrader (D-OR), Paul Tonko (D-NY) and Greg Walden (R-OR).

Vital in small and medium-sized media markets, JSAs allow local TV broadcasters to lower their operating costs by merging their advertising sales department with that of another station. The cost savings is often used to expand local news and weather coverage by making investments in upgraded systems such as Doppler radar or closed-captioning services.

“When severe weather threatens my district, many folks rely on local TV broadcasts to keep their family safe,” Shimkus said. “The FCC says their controversial rule is intended to prevent media monopolies, but the commission has failed to complete a required review of media ownership rules in more than six years. I’m pleased to have bipartisan support for this legislation to protect vital local news and weather broadcasts from FCC’s ill-informed rule.”

The FCC’s ban on JSAs went into effect on March 31, 2014. 

“Joint Sales Agreements have increased diversity and competition in the market and we should embrace that,” Ellmers added. “At the very least, we should allow those who have had JSAs approved by the FCC to continue those agreements. I am proud to be an original co-sponsor of this bill, and I will continue to protect constituents’ access to the local programming they want and need.”