Broadcast/print cross-ownership ban may be on the way out


FCCFCC Commissioners appearing at the recently-held NABOB confab believe that the latest quadrennial review of ownership rules should be out before year’s end, and that it may move to strike completely the ban on cross-ownership of local broadcast and print properties, according to an MMTC report.

Mignon Clyburn told the gathering that it was possible the cross-ownership ban would be eliminated “in its entirety.”

Under former Chairman Kevin Martin, the FCC eliminated the restriction in the top 20 Nielsen DMAs, and also attempted to make several long-standing cross-owned combinations remaining in place under waivers permanent.

Robert McDowell has long been a proponent of ending the ban, saying it may well spur new investment in the print medium.

Ajit Pai underscored the FCC’s obligation to uphold the concepts of diversity, competition and localism. He said the trio of principals should underlie every decision the Commission makes as it tackles ownership and diversity issues.

RBR-TVBR observation: At this point in history, anybody with an interest in owning and operating a newspaper should be encouraged, regardless of what else is in their media portfolio.
The newspaper business has taken the hardest hit of all media in recent years. Most have down-sized, both by cutting staff and content, and many are no longer even in existence.

Yet they remain an important local news resource – and if a broadcaster is willing to step in and try to revitalize a local paper, they should face only gratitide, not a requirement to file for federal waivers.