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.