Copps calls for FCC proceeding on News Corp. acquisition of Dow Jones

FCC commissioner Michael Copps Oct. 25 told chairman Kevin Martin that an FCC proceeding should be opened to examine the implications of News Corp.’s proposed acquisition of Dow Jones & Company on the media market nationwide.

The request, made in the form of letter, pointed out that if the deal is approved News Corp. would control one of the four major broadcast networks, two of the nation’s five largest newspapers and a large number of other media outlets, including cable channels and satellite networks.

For those in the New York City area, the deal means one company would control two TV stations, WNYW-TV and WWOR-TV in the metropolitan area, as well as two papers, "The Wall Street Journal" and the "New York Post."

“I think it is essential that the FCC determine whether approval of this transaction accords with our public interest responsibilities and whether our existing media ownership rules and precedents are adequate to deal with this proposed transaction,” the Copps letter said.

Acknowledging that the full commission twice has declined to apply its newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership ban to publishers of national newspapers, Copps nevertheless said he believed that precedent should not “preclude the FCC from conducting a thorough analysis of the proposed Wall Street Journal acquisition.

Calling the FCC decisions in 1986 and 1995 not apply the ban “antiquated,” Copps said those orders “are no foundation on which to build a media policy for the 21st Century.”

Those earlier FCC decisions “clearly involve facts and public interest concerns dramatically different than those before us now,” the letter said.

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