Congressmen Ask FCC to Repeal Cross-Ownership Rule

Two Congresional Representatives recently sent a letter to FCC Chairman Michael Powell urging him to repeal the cross-ownership rule banning a single entity from owning both a television station and a newspaper in the same market. The FCC is currently undergoing a rulemaking process concerning the statute.

In the letter, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Billy Tauzin (R-La.) and Telecommunications and the Internet Subcommittee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.), cited several reasons why the FCC should drop the rule, designed to prevent any single company from having too much control over media and information sources in one locality. The Representatives pointed out that sources of information have vastly increased since the rule was adopted in 1975.

Among the statistics included, the number of television stations have jumped from 952 to "1,600 full power television stations, 2,390 low power television stations, and 230 Class A television stations;" the number of networks has gone from three to four with two more emerging; cable now reaches 70 percent of households instead of 13 percent; satellite television is available; and "the Internet also has become a significant source of local and national news for many Americans."

"We believe this explosion of media sources should eliminate any concern regarding a lack of diversity of views in the marketplace and competition, which have been the principal justifications for the rule," wrote the Representatives.

They also pointed out that "numerous broadcasters, trade associations, and public interest groups, along with more than 1,400 individuals, have filed comments and reply comments in the [rulesmaking] proceeding. We would note that the vast majority of commenters advocate repeal of the rule."

In the current election cycle, both Representatives have received thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from major media conglomerates.