FCC tables ownership review


We expected that the big item on the planned discussion of media ownership rules at the FCC would not include discussion of Chairman Kevin Martin’s proposal to eliminate cross-ownership restrictions in the top 20 markets. That vote is widely believed to penciled in for 12/18/07, allowing a month or so for commentary. But the whole item was pulled from the delayed meeting.

The news will come as at least a mild disappointment to watchdog organizations that were looking for movement on the issue of increasing broadcast ownership for minorities and women in particular and, to use the more court-friendly designation, socially-disadvantaged businesses in general.

TVBR/RBR observation: Frankly, we were surprised to see ownership issues on this month’s agenda in the first place, precisely because Martin was allowing commentary time on his cross-ownership proposal. He is being criticized for not allowing enough time as it is, and Byron Dorgan (D-ND) is threatening legislation that would move consideration of the proposal to next May at the earliest. So a meaningful action at this time did not seem to be in the cards. However, Martin has promised studies on localism and minority ownership — we’ll be interested to see when those are made public.