FCC Moves on Ownership Review

WASHINGTON -- The quadrennial review of the Federal Communication Commission’s media ownership rules is moving forward. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski’s office has circulated a media ownership proposal to his fellow commissioners, according to agency sources.

The aim is to get an item on the agenda for the December meeting. The item streamlines and modernizes the media ownership rules. That includes eliminating outdated prohibitions on newspaper-broadcast and TV-radio cross ownership, according to a spokesman.

Those rules, in place since 1975, prevent one entity from owning both a daily newspaper and a radio or television station in the same market, as well as restrictions on radio-TV cross ownership to limit media concentration.

While in theory, the relaxation would permit one entity to own both a daily newspaper and a radio station, or both a television and radio station in the same market, commission attorneys note that other limits remain in effect. Fr example, transactions would still be subject to subject to local radio and TV ownership limits.

For radio, the current tiered local radio ownership limits of up eight voices in a market would be retained in the proposal. As the commission recognized last year, while the media marketplace is in transition, broadband and new media are not yet available as ubiquitously as traditional broadcast media, and certain protections therefore remain important to promoting competition, diversity, and localism. The proposal promotes media diversity by retaining some of the consolidation limits, and through a number of measures that provide broadcast opportunities for small businesses, according to sources.