Rehr to FCC: Change Cross-Ownership Rules
February 9, 2006 at 11:52 AM (PT)
New NAB Pres./CEO DAVID REHR has written a letter to FCC Chairman KEVIN MARTIN calling once again for changes in newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership rules, calling the current prohibition "anachronistic."
REHR writes that "(t)he cross-ownership restriction inhibits broadcasters from competing vigorously with their multichannel competitors in local markets. For example, the cross-ownership rule prohibits the owner of a single radio station from having an attributable interest in a daily newspaper in the same market, while a cable system operator with a dominant position in the local multichannel video programming distribution market faces no restriction in acquiring a daily newspaper in the same market.
...maintaining broadcast-only local ownership rules in their current form can no longer be justified.
"Similarly, a cable system operator – who controls the distribution of dozens or even hundreds of video programming channels, as well as an essential pathway into consumers’ homes – can acquire a broadcast television station in the same market, unlike the owner of a single broadcast television station who cannot acquire a second broadcast channel in most markets. Certainly in the current digital, multichannel marketplace, local broadcasters are unable to dominate either the advertising market or the marketplace of ideas. Thus, maintaining broadcast-only local ownership rules in their current form can no longer be justified."
The letter also calls for reform of the TV ownership rules to allow more duopolies in medium and smaller markets due to "the costs of the digital transition, changes in network compensation, and increased competition."