FCC Taking Heat on Ownership


Two House leaders are turning up the heat on the Federal Communications
Commission over a rule that keeps separate the local ownership of newspapers and
broadcast properties.

House Commerce Committee chairman Billy Tauzin (R-La.) and Telecommunications
and the Internet Subcommittee chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) sent the FCC a
letter Tuesday urging repeal of the rule in swift fashion.

Claiming that media markets have changed dramatically since 1975, when the
rule was first adopted, Tauzin and Upton said the 'explosion of media sources
should eliminate any concern regarding lack of diversity of views in the
marketplace and competition.' They noted that neither direct-broadcast satellite
nor the Internet was a mass-media participant 27 years ago.

The FCC rule bans the common ownership of a local newspaper and a broadcast
property (radio or TV) in the same market. Under FCC chairman Michael Powell --
a Republican appointed by President Bush -- the agency is reviewing the
newspaper-broadcast rule and several more related to mass media

Meanwhile, several civil-rights and public-interest groups sent Powell a
letter Tuesday calling on the FCC to undertake a thorough analysis of 'the
anti-competitive and other dangerous effects of contraction in the number of
media owners' before relaxing any media-ownership rules.