Reply Comments In FCC Ownership Review Aim At 'Subcaps'
July 29, 2010 at 4:18 AM (PT)
Comments from several group broadcasters filed with the FCC this week call for the repeal of the AM and FM "subcaps" restricting the number of stations a station can own in either band. "The record in this proceeding demonstrates that the Commission cannot rationally retain the AM/FM subcaps," CLEAR CHANNEL asserted in its reply comments, adding, "the subcaps are based on technical and economic assumptions that are not true for today’s AM broadcasters."
CLEAR CHANNEL noted that only SAUL LEVINE's MT. WILSON FM BROADCASTERS, INC. filed comments supporting the subcaps, but that several other comments have opposed the continued use of subcaps.
CLEAR CHANNEL's filing also supported an "incubator" program for women and minority broadcasting companies, citing its donation of six stations to the MMTC.
COX ENTERPRISES filed comments that supported repeal of the newspaper/broadcast cross-ownership rule, saying the rule "impairs production of high-quality local news and information by interfering with the efficient production and distribution of local news, which is newspapers’ and local broadcasters’ most vital public service. At the same time, the Rule does nothing to further either diversity or competition."
The FUTURE OF MUSIC COALITION criticized CLEAR CHANNEL's earlier comments promoting the salutory effects of consolidation on format diversity, saying that "increased consolidation in the commercial radio sector runs counter to the FCC's goals of competition, localism and diversity on the public airwaves. As the Commission undertakes a review of its current media ownership rules, we urge it to consider radio’s monolithic transformation following the elimination of the national ownership rules and the relaxation of local ownership rules under the 1996 Telecommunications Act."
MT. WILSON's reply comments take aim at CLEAR CHANNEL's earlier filing, saying that the CLEAR CHANNEL comments "benefit only group owners; eliminates the independent broadcaster as a competitor; reduces viewpoint diversity and localism; and effectively substitutes 'Board Room'/WALL STREET demands (i.e., earnings) for the public interest. The CLEAR CHANNEL Comments are self-serving, speculative and lacking in empirical data.
"(E)liminating or relaxing the Multiple Ownership Rules (caps and subcaps)," writes MT. WILSON, "will function as a catalyst for more Wall Street investment in more group owners -- thereby providing to group owners the opportunity and the financial resources to buy more stations. The consequences are readily apparent -- fewer independent owners, less owner viewpoint diversity, less owner localism and the near impossibility of any remaining independent owners to compete."