The WGA West has urged the FCC to maintain existing media ownership rules to prevent further consolidation of the broadcast television market.

“Rules that limit duopolies, prohibit mergers of the top four local broadcast stations, restrict newspaper/broadcast cross-ownership and prevent any of the top four broadcast networks from merging are necessary to maintain both local market and national competition,” the guild said in its 16-page filing with the FCC, which is reviewing its broadcast ownership rules.
“Broadcast television’s unique role within the media industry merits rules to protect the public interest. Broadcast television offerings, which include local news, live event coverage, sports and the most-watched scripted programming, are unmatched by the basic cable market or Internet video. The Commission must, therefore, continue to protect competition in this market by retaining its existing television ownership limits.”

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“The Commission’s review of broadcast ownership rules is timely because the video programming market has changed significantly since the 2010 review,” the filing reads. “Of particular concern is the massive consolidation underway among both broadcast stations and multichannel video programming distributors. This consolidation is occurring in a market that already features too little competition.”

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Portions of the guild’s petition to the FCC, however, are not so timely. “We expect further consolidation among networks and studios,” it reads. “Indeed, 21st Century Fox is attempting to do just that with its acquisition of Time Warner.” A WGAW spokesman acknowledged that the filing had been written before yesterday’s announcement that the company has backed off its proposed bid for TW, but he said the guild decided to file it anyway. Just goes to show how fast things can change, and how events sometimes overtake press releases.