media concentration.media ownership

The FCC has released the agenda for its Workshop on the multiple ownership rules (about which we wrote here).  The workshop will span three mornings (November 2-4), and will include live testimony from a different panel each morning.  The first panel will include the academic perspective on ownership rules, the second the view from "public interest organizations", and the third from industry representatives, though the participants on that panel are, at this point, the most unsettled.  The Commission also requests written comments from the public, which can be filed through November 20.  As we wrote when this topic first came up last month, these workshops are the first step in the FCC’s consideration of the multiple ownership rules – a review that it is required to conduct once every 4 years – with 2010 being the year in which such review is required. 

The Commission sets out a series of questions that it would like to have addressed.  These questions include:

  • The FCC is required by statute to consider the rules governing local radio ownership, local television ownership, radio-TV cross-ownership, broadcast-newspaper cross-ownership and the dual network rule.  The Commission asks if it should consider other rules in the context of this proceeding.
  • In assessing ownership rules, should the Commission treat each rule in isolation, or should it look at all media together and attempt to craft more general rules addressing media consolidation as a whole in relevant markets?
  • Should rules that are adopted be "bright line" rules, that limit entities to specific numbers of stations, or should the Commission make a case by case determination of whether a combination is in the public interest, subject to some general principles?
  • Should the Commission address the traditional concepts of competition, diversity and localism to this proceeding, or come up with new ways of looking at these concepts, or different concepts to assess ownership goals?
  •  How should the FCC analyze competition, localism and diversity in today’s marketplace?  What are the relevant markets for analysis?  What metrics should be used?
  • What studies or analysis should the FCC use to inform its decisions on these topics.


Continue Reading FCC Releases Agenda for First Workshop on Revisions to its Multiple Ownership Rules – Localism and Economic Competition Issues Included

In a Public Notice released today, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin announced his intention to modify only the newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership rule, among all of the multiple ownership rules under consideration.  That rule prohibits ownership of a broadcast station and daily newspaper in the same market.   Somewhat surprisingly, Martin proposes to leave all other multiple ownership rules untouched.  And his proposal only suggests clearing the combination of a newspaper and either a television station or a radio station in the Top 20 markets, and only if the TV station is not among the Top 4 rated stations in the market.  Any other combination would be presumed to be prohibited, though a showing could be made to rebut that presumption. 

As we have previously written, Chairman Martin has long signaled his desire to modify or eliminate the newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership rule.  His specific proposal was also described in an op-ed piece he wrote for today’s NY Times, and which is attached to the FCC Public Notice.  It would allow ownership of a daily newspaper and one broadcast station (radio or TV, but not both) in the top 20 DMAs (i.e. TV markets).  Even then, Martin would prohibit common ownership of a newspaper and any of the top four TV stations in that market, and would require that there be at least eight independently owned media voices (daily newspapers and full-power TV stations) following the transaction. 

Martin does not otherwise propose any changes to the other multiple ownership rules currently under consideration, including limits on local TV and radio ownership, as well as the national TV ownership cap that counts UHF stations at 50% of their actual audience.  Martin’s editorial makes clear that he would also scrap the Commission’s former "cross media" limits that were remanded back to the FCC by the U.S. Court of Appeals in the 2004 Prometheus decision.  The "cross media" limits would have weighted various media within a market to determine what level of media ownership would be permitted in that market.


Continue Reading Chairman Martin Proposes His Multiple Ownership Modifications – Only Proposing to Change Newspaper-Broadcast Cross-Ownership