Media consolidation, the FCC’s failure to complete its 2010 quadrennial media ownership review, and the agency’s recent decision to treat joint sales agreements (JSAs) among television broadcasters as attributable ownership interests ranked among the prime topics of debate at a hearing conducted by the House Communications Subcommittee on Wednesday. FCC Media Bureau Chief William Lake testified at the hearing, which also featured witnesses from the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), Clear Channel Communications, and the Newspaper Association of America (NAA). In his opening remarks, subcommittee chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) voiced dismay at the FCC’s inability to loosen outdated media ownership restrictions as part of its most recent but incomplete quadrennial review, lamenting: “without relief, I fear that local broadcast and newspaper companies will continue to struggle against unregulated competitors whose business models are not hamstrung by decades-old regulatory assumptions.” Walden’s sentiments were echoed by NAB executive vice president Jane Mago, who complained that “the current broadcast ownership rules are simply out of touch with the reality of today’s media marketplace” in which “cable, satellite and Internet-based media outlets—who operate without these cumbersome regulations—continue to proliferate and take both audience share and advertising revenues.” Warning, however, that relaxation or elimination of long-standing ownership restrictions such as the ban on TV-newspaper cross-ownership will promote undue media concentration, ranking subcommittee member Anna Eshoo (D- CA) responded: “our goal should be to promote localism, competition and encourage diversity, not to roll back what few protections we have left.” Meanwhile, in reply to questions posed by Rep. Bob Latta (R-OH) on the effects of the FCC’s recent JSA decision on TV broadcasters, Mago predicted that many stations now operating under JSAs are “either going to go out of business, or they’re going to have to find other sources of revenue because the efficiencies that they’ve been operating under have been what allowed them to provide greater service to their communities.” Noting, “we have, expressly in our rules, an opportunity for a station that’s failing to obtain a waiver of our local TV rule and we have granted failing station waivers,” Lake advised the panel: “it doesn’t have to take a back door of becoming dependent on another station through a JSA.”