Richard Wiley: Familiar face in media ownership war

June 6, 2003

Nearly 30 years ago, a young Republican lawyer named Richard E. Wiley led the FCC as it approved a landmark regulation that restricted a company from owning both a newspaper and a broadcast station in the same city. Last week, the FCC repealed that rule in more than 100 cities as part of the most significant overhaul of media regulations in a generation.

Working behind the scenes in support of that change was the same Richard Wiley, now 68 years old, and — according to a profile in the New York Times— “by all accounts the most influential media and telecommunications lawyer in the country.”

To critics who would accuse him of selling out the very public-interest safeguards he helped put in place as FCC chairman during the Ford administration, the Times reported Wiley saying that his policy views are now different because the industry is different.

“The world has demonstrably changed since then,” Wiley told the Times. “I think my earlier handiwork is outmoded. It was a good rule for 1975. We were concerned at the time that newspapers would dominate television, which people forget had only really been created 20 years or so earlier. It’s almost been 30 years later and many things are different.”

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