The FCC today adopted Commissioner Martin’s proposal for limited multiple ownership relaxation, adopting a presumption in favor of approving the common ownership of a broadcast station and a daily newspaper in the Top 20 television markets (we wrote about that proposal here). But the grant of such combinations would not be automatic, but instead would be considered on a case-by-case basis, so opposition to any merger could be submitted to the FCC. Under the rules announced today, newspaper-television combinations would not be entitled to the presumption in favor of grant if they involved one of the Top 4 ranked television stations in a market, or if there would be fewer than 8 independent media voices (full power TV or significant daily newspapers that are not commonly controlled) after the combination. As for the other multiple ownership rules, from what was said at the meeting, no change at all will be made. We addressed some of the many multiple ownership issues before the Commission that were apparently either not addressed or will not be changed in our post, here.
As the full text of the decision has not been released, details of how the Commission addressed every issue are not available. From the comments of the Democratic Commissioners who dissented from the decision, changes were being made to the standards adopted today throughout the night and as early as an hour before the meeting was held (see Commissioner Copps’ impassioned statement against the new rules, here, where he details the last minute revisions). Given the last minute nature of the final order, it may be a while before the full text is released. However, from statements made today and from the Commission’s press release, some details of the decision are known. They are summarized below.