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FCC Loosens Cross-Media Ownership Rules

December 18, 2007

As expected, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission voted today to allow media companies to own both a television station and a newspaper in the largest 20 U.S. broadcast markets.

The vote was 3-2, with all three FCC Republican Commissioners in favor, and two opposed.

In addition, the FCC action exempted 36 newspaper-broadcast ownership combinations that had been grandfathered under the previous rule. It also exempted six ownership applications that were pending before the agency.


FCC Chair Kevin Martin termed the action a "relatively minimal loosening of the ban" that may "may help to forestall the erosion in local news coverage."

Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein, a Democrat, saw the matter from a completely opposite perspective.

"The FCC has never attempted such a brazen act of defiance against Congress," he said. "The law does not say we are to serve those who seek to profit by using the public airwaves.

"The law says we are to serve the public interest," Adelstein continued. "And the public has repeatedly told us they are not interested in further media consolidation."

I, personally, see little or no harm in this decision. Most of the markets that are affected have several highly competitive electronic news organizations, local news websites as well as thriving free weeklies and dailies.

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