Cross-ownership easement under attack


Tribune did not like the FCC’s move to allow limited broadcast/newspaper cross-ownership. It opened up only the top 20 DMAs, and Tribune feels all DMAs should be open to such combinations. Now the Prometheus Radio Project is attacking from the other angle, arguing that the FCC overstepped its authority in allowing cross-ownership in the top 20 to loosen. It’ll have Media Access Project helping plead its case in Philadelphia’s Third Circuit, where this same Prometheus successfully blocked much of the legendary 6/2/03 Michael Powell FCC ownership rulemaking. The Prometheus legal action wound up sending the case back to the Commission on remand, to provide better justification for the proposed changes, or to change the proposals to better justified new ones.

RBR/TVBR observation: The moves may not be equal and opposite. Presumably Tribune will be better equipped to spend money on lawyers than will Prometheus, although the way the stock market has been behaving we suppose that is not a given. But the important action-inhibiting fact is that both sides are again already being heard from in the judicial system. And we still haven’t heard from Capitol Hill, where Byron Dorgan (D-ND) has promised to put his posse back together to stop the FCC action, this time with much more congenial leadership in the House of Representatives than he had last time around, when now-departed leaders Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) and Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) prevented a companion to Dorgan’s Resolution of Disapproval from ever seeing the light of day on the House floor. This one isn’t over yet, and at this rate it by the time it is over, we’ll be reading our newspapers on special signet rings provided by a company that right now is a mere germ of an idea in the mind of a 12-year-old prodigy who is two years away from early entry into a elite engineering university. Hey, it could happen.