At its monthly open meeting on Monday, the FCC adopted two media-related items in addition to the aforementioned wireless orders in hopes of promoting diversity and competition in the television broadcast industry. While both items were welcomed by the cable industry, however, the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) protested on behalf of its members that the mandated rule changes could severely impact small station owners that lack the financial and other means to negotiate independently for favorable retransmission and advertising terms. In the first order, the FCC revised its rules to prohibit a television station ranked among the top four outlets in a given market from joining with other top four stations in the same market to negotiate jointly retransmission consent terms with multichannel video program distributors (MVPDs) unless the stations in question are commonly owned. Maintaining that Congress intended for retransmission consent to be negotiated among parties on a one-to-one basis, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler decried the practice of joint negotiations whereby stations “would otherwise compete against each other for [retransmission consent] fees.” As depicted in statistics cited by Wheeler, joint retransmission negotiations “raise prices to cable systems by around 20% to 40%.” As Wheeler thus argued that the new restriction on joint negotiations “[removes] the leverage of collusion to inappropriately drive up retransmission fees and with them consumer prices,” Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel explained that her vote in favor of the order was grounded in the “incidence of extended blackouts and the creep upward of rates.” Meanwhile, in a separate item which also launches the FCC’s latest quadrennial review of the media ownership rules, the FCC decreed that joint sales agreements (JSAs) between television stations in the same market will generally be treated as attributable ownership interests. Mirroring rules that the FCC applied to radio station JSAs in the 1990s, the new rules classify a JSA as an attributable interest when 15% or more of a TV station’s advertising time is sold to a competing local station. Parties to existing JSAs will be given two years to comply with the rule change. Stations may also seek a waiver of the attribution rule if they can demonstrate that the JSA to which they are a party serves the public interest or that the JSA does not allow a larger television broadcaster to influence the programming of a smaller broadcaster. Defending his industry’s use of JSAs that “allow free and local TV stations to survive in a hyper-competitive world dominated by pay TV giants,” NAB executive vice president Dennis Wharton criticized the FCC’s decision as “arbitrary and capricious,” adding that: “the notion that a punitive crackdown on local TV stations will lead to lower cable rates is simply not credible.” Countering that the retransmission consent order “extracts from a broadcaster’s bite one of several practices that . . . harm consumers and competition,” Matthew Polka, the president of the American Cable Association (ACA), told reporters: “ACA members are ecstatic.”