Consumer groups want to cross out cross-ownership


Free Press representatives testified at the Washington DC localism forum, dropping what Commissioner Michael Copps called a bombshell – saying that the FCC’s own research indicated that broadcast/print cross-ownership results in less news in markets in which it is present. It is now pushing its line of reasoning more forcefully, along with Consumers Union and the Consumer Federation of America. Free Press’s Derek Turner does not argue that cross-owned operations put out an inferior news product. The problem is that they tend to be so good that they overwhelm the competition. "The presence of one cross-owned station leads the other stations in the market to collectively curtail their news output by about 25%," it says. They also point out there is no measurable increase in local news either from the cross-owned station or the rest of the market, and that the station tends to follow the editorial slant of the newspaper to which it is attached. Turner said that while most are clamoring for diversity, "What Martin is proposing would have the opposite effect – more consolidation and less local news."

RBR/TVBR observation: In large markets, the size of the local advertising pool can sustain most competent standalone full-power broadcast stations or newspapers. Broadcasters and publishers most feel the need for efficiencies of scale in smaller markets where income potential is limited and the possibility of regulatory relief is currently off the table. And so it goes.