The FCC administration of departing Chairman Julius Genachowski had signaled its willingness to open up cross-ownership possibilities between broadcast and print properties in large markets, but his departure, along with that of fellow cross-ownership advocate Robert McDowell, may put News Corp. honcho Rupert Murdoch’s desire for the LA Times on ice.
The New York Times reports that Murdoch would absolutely love to acquire the newspaper, and we’ve known for some time that its owner, Tribune, would dearly love to sell it.
The hold-up under the current rules is the fact that News Corporation owns two television stations in the Los Angeles DMA, making outright acquisition of LAT impossible and the chances of getting a waiver to do so highly unlikely.
The rulemaking Genachowski and McDowell were ready to support has been postponed at the request of airwave diversity advocacy MMTC, which is putting together one final study pertinent to the issue. It is expected to be out in relatively short order, possibly in time for a vote this summer. But with two yea votes on the way out the door, it’s anybody’s guess how cross-ownership might fare at a bare-bones three-member Commission.
Republican Ajit Pai is a likely supporter of relaxed cross-ownership rules, and he would have to get support from one of the two remaining Democrats, which include Mignon Clyburn and Jessica Rosenworcel.
RBR-TVBR observation: This issue may well go on ice regardless of who wants what. This is, after all, the 2010 quadrennial review, already three years overdue with no date for a vote on the schedule. And when Kevin Martin passed a rulemaking opening up big-market cross-ownership, the next stop was not the M&A negotiating table but the courts.