FCC to Review Newspaper-Broadcast Ban


As expected, the Federal Communications Commission is planning to launch a
rulemaking May 10 on whether to retain, eliminate or modify the ban on owning a
newspaper and broadcast property in the same market.

FCC chairman Michael Powell has indicated for weeks that he planned to use
the May 10 meeting to launch the proceeding. He has also indicated that the
newspaper-broadcast ban is an ownership restriction that has probably outlived
its usefulness.

The FCC adopted the ban in 1975, fearing excessive media concentration that
threatened 'diversity of viewpoints and economic competition,' as the agency
said in a report last year that rejected changing the rule.

The FCC, when it adopted the rule, did not disturb dozens of combinations in
existence that would otherwise have run afoul of the rule. Today, grandfathered
newspaper-broadcast combinations remain in about 40 markets, including Chicago,
where Tribune Co. owns the leading newspaper, WGN-TV and WGN-AM