Las Vegas -- The fog surrounding the Federal Communications Commission's
review of broadcast-ownership rules is beginning to lift, as three commissioners
-- a majority -- are now on record as being in favor of allowing the joint
ownership of a newspaper and television or radio station in the same market.
On Tuesday, Republican FCC members Kathleen Abernathy and Kevin Martin said
they supported at least relaxation of the rule. Last month, in a speech in
Washington, D.C., chairman Michael Powell said he wanted to remove the
Addressing the National Association of Broadcasters' convention here,
Abernathy said newspaper-broadcast combinations that were allowed to remain
after adoption of the ban in the 1970s are providing high-quality local news and
improving the news product of the competition.
"I am skeptical that given the multiple choices you have of ways to receive
news information today, a continuing ban makes sense anymore," Abernathy
Martin, in remarks to the same audience, said the media landscape has changed
so dramatically over the past 30 years that the ban is no longer necessary.
"I certainly think that the commission should do something to relax it, if
not to repeal it, in its current form," Martin said.
Abernathy and Martin appeared on the same panel with FCC Democrats Michael
Copps and Jonathan Adelstein. Copps said the "ban" was a misnomer because
proposed newspaper-broadcast combinations may seek FCC approval under an
existing waiver process.