It is the considered belief of Bonneville International that the FCC’s upcoming proposals on the media ownership front will include very little change at all, other than reports that it will be easier to form co-owned local radio and newspaper groups. Bonneville says at a minimum the FCC should stick to its guns and grant that relief.
The remarks echo those of Morris Communications, which like Bonneville has radio/newspaper combinations that are already in operation.
Bonneville stated, “We understand that the Federal Communications Commission currently is considering a draft decision in the media ownership proceeding that would include modest relaxation of the newspaper/broadcast cross-ownership ban. One component of that modest change would be elimination of the newspaper/radio cross-ownership restraint. We wish to voice our support for the draft order’s approach to that particular rule. As owners of newspaper/radio combinations, we know that these arrangements can bolster local news coverage efforts by making more efficient use of professional newsgathering operations, increasing the base of financial support needed to continue employing local journalists, or both.”
Bonneville concluded, “It is no secret that the newspaper industry in particular is facing transformational upheaval as it adapts to the digital communications era – and that today’s media environment is very different from that of 1975, the year that the FCC first imposed the newspaper/broadcast ban. We had hoped that the FCC would go even further in amending all of its outdated ownership regulations, but it reportedly plans no changes to the current local radio restraints, no changes to the local TV ownership cap, and only a limited revision of the newspaper/TV cross-ownership rule. In other words, the potential impact of the draft order apparently would be quite modest. But we believe that, at the very least, the record before the FCC on newspaper/radio issues requires the lifting of that rule, and we hope the five commissioners will soon act on it.”