(Reuters) - The chairman of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission plans a proposal on media-ownership rules that would make it harder for broadcast companies to control two TV stations in the same local market by using the same advertising sales staff, the Wall Street Journal reported citing people familiar with the matter.
U.S. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler is likely to make the long-awaited order public in the coming weeks and a five-member commission is expected to vote on it next month, WSJ said.
Under current rules, broadcasters typically are banned from owning two full-power TV stations in the same local market. But some companies have skirted that restriction by using agreements that allow them to control programming and ad sales at a second station through agreements with the owner, the report said.
Wheeler's proposal would treat broadcasters as the owners of any station for which they handle more than 15 percent of the advertising sales, the Journal said. (http://link.reuters.com/zaq27v)
If the five-member commission approves the proposed order, many larger broadcasters, such as Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc could be forced to unwind the agreements that don't meet these requirements within two years or face a potential violation of the FCC's media ownership rules, WSJ said.
For decades, U.S. media markets have operated under rules that prohibit one owner from controlling both a newspaper and a television or radio station in a single market.
More than a year ago, the previous FCC chairman, Julius Genachowski, circulated a proposal that would have relaxed the ban, eliminating the restrictions on one owner controlling a radio station and a newspaper in the same market.
However, in December the FCC withdrew the proposal to relax the ban on owning several media outlets in the same media market.
(Reporting by Varun Aggarwal in Bangalore; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier)