Crossownership ruling on hold


Against the urgings of numerous broadcasters and publishers, the US Third Circuit Court of Appeals has put off any ruling on the FCC’s relaxation of its crossownership rule to give the new FCC an opportunity to review the rule again. But the clock is ticking. Interested parties supporting the stay have 21 days to show why it should be sustained.

Media Alliance, Prometheus Radio Project, Office of Communication of the United Church of Christ and Free Press are in favor of delaying a decision.

Those arguing to get on with it have included Media General, Fox Television Stations, Tribune Company, National Association of Broadcasters, Belo Corp., CBS Broadcasting, CBS Corporation, Clear Channel Communications, Gannett Co., Morris Communications Company, and Newspaper Association of America.

The FCC has been on both sides. Currently, under Acting Chairman Michael Copps, it has withdrawn its earlier objection to a delay, issued under former chair Kevin Martin, and is now fine with it, although Republican Commissioner Robert McDowell has publicly dissented from that position.

RBR/TVBR observation: The gravitational pull in favor of leaving cross-ownership matters just as they were in the mid-1970s appears difficult to burst out of. We will not be surprised if a company called Red Planet Media, operating out of a colony on Mars needs to apply to the FCC for a waiver to combine a broadcast station and a newspaper.