FCC Chief Wants to Lift Cross-Ownership Rule

Says letting newspapers own TV stations in same market would aid flagging industry
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 13, 2007 2:10 PM CST
A Washington Post newspaper box is seen in Washington in this Feb. 28, 2007 file photo. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, file)   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – After weeks of speculation, FCC chairman Kevin Martin came out  today in favor of relaxing a decades-old rule barring ownership of newspapers and TV stations in the same market. In a call to reporters and an op-ed piece in the New York Times, he said the change is needed to bolster the flagging newspaper industry; he would allow cross-ownership only in the well-diversified top 20 markets.

The owner of a newspaper would be allowed to buy a TV or radio station within the same market—but not one of the top four TV stations, and the entities would have to retain editorial independence, he said. The move would enable the $8.2 billion deal to take Tribune Corp. private, notes Tribune-owned LA Times. A bipartisan group of lawmakers has vowed to block the move—at least until the FCC completes a long-delayed study on broadcaster impact.