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February 28, 2023

NAB Statement on FCC's Hearing Designation Order

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Today at the NAB State Leadership Conference, President and CEO Curtis LeGeyt expressed concern with the implications of the FCC’s decision to refer the Standard General-Tegna merger to the agency’s administrative law judge. The following statement can be attributed to him:

"NAB is alarmed by the FCC Media Bureau’s decision to designate for hearing the Standard General-TEGNA merger after a needlessly prolonged process and on the basis of issues outside the Commission’s purview.

"While NAB takes no position on the merits of the transaction, nothing about the hearing designation required substantially exceeding the FCC's self-imposed 180-day shot clock. The long delay, and now hearing designation, will likely lead to job losses and other damaging cost-cutting measures by the local stations involved to account for the extreme expense of managing the FCC's unwieldly process.

"The Media Bureau's actions renew serious concerns with the Commission's role in reviewing transactions. It is clear the Commission's shot clock is an illusion, and NAB urges Congress to consider codifying it in law rather than relying on the FCC's current voluntary commitment. Further, it is inappropriate for the bureau staff, without the input of the commissioners, to designate a major transaction for hearing. This process deprives the commissioners, who are nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate, the opportunity to participate in decisions of this magnitude, and leaves the parties to the transaction with no practical legal recourse.

"Finally, it is time for Congress to define the 'public interest' for the purpose of FCC merger review. Rather than simply ensure that a given transaction complies with the FCC's rules – and thus would presumably be in the public interest – the current standard has been interpreted to permit the Commission to extract ad hoc concessions whether or not they fall within the FCC's expertise or mandate."

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