FCC Releases Order On Cross-Ownership
February 4, 2008 at 2:59 PM (PT)
The FCC has released its order on newspaper/broadcast cross-ownership, as announced on DECEMBER 18th. The release TODAY of the order, which passed by a 3-2 vote, includes the presumption in the top-20 markets that cross-ownership of TV and newspaper interests (if the station is not one of the top 4 in the DMA and if at least eight independent media "voices" continue to exist in the market) or newspaper interests and radio stations are permissible.
The release includes Chairman KEVIN MARTIN's argument that the looser cross-ownership rules will help newspapers in their present economic dilemma and his unusually direct charges that the two Democrats on the panel refused to cooperate even as he agreed to do whatever they asked regarding open hearings and releasing the rules for peer review and public perusal, complaining, "At each step along the way, as I was crossing the goal line, the goal posts were moved."
the new rules... may turn out to be as tough as a bowl of Jell-O before itâ??s put in the fridge.
In addition, the order reveals the grant of five permanent newspaper-TV crossownership waivers for MEDIA GENERAL in MYRTLE BEACH, COLUMBUS, GA, PANAMA CITY, and BRISTOL-KINGSPORT-JOHNSON CITY and for GANNETT in PHOENIX.
Democrat MICHAEL COPPS' dissent rips the majority decision as "unconnected to good policy and not even incidentally concerned with encouraging media to make our democracy stronger" and charges that the rules released in the order were being changed as late as just before the Commissioners walked out the door to go to the meeting for a vote. He added that "the consolidation we have seen so far and the decision to treat broadcasting as just another business has not produced a media system that does a better job serving most Americans."
Commenting TODAY on the belated release of the order, COPPS and Commissioner JONATHAN ADELSTEIN said, "After being told we have to 'hurry up' and vote by DECEMBER 18, the Commission waited over a month and a half before finally issuing this Order. Apparently, it took the majority that long to finalize issues left unresolved at the time we voted. There is no reason we could not have heeded the wishes of many in Congress to take the time needed to work these kinks out before the Commission voted." Criticizing the grant of permanent waivers to TRIBUNE, the dissenting commissioners added, "We said the new rules were likely to be about as tough as a bowl of Jell-O. What we didn’t realize was that they may turn out to be as tough as a bowl of Jell-O before it’s put in the fridge."