MMTC: Diversity Doesn't Justify Retaining Cross-Ownership Rule

But ‘Extensive’ Combo Could Hurt Minority, Women Ownership, Group Tells FCC
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WASHINGTON — The Minority Media & Telecommunications Council told the Federal Communications Commission on Tuesday that it should use its own diversity study as one piece of evidence — though not a dispositive one — that rules banning newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership, or other forms of cross-ownership, are not "sufficiently material" to justify tightening or retaining them.

The FCC under chairman Julius Genachowski — and Republican chairman Kevin Martin before him — has proposed loosening the rules banning common ownership of a newspaper and TV station in the same market, or eliminating the TV-newspaper and radio-newspaper crossownership rules altogether.

 The study did identify one market in which the three respondents said cross-media interests had a competitive impact, so the MMTC’s July 23 filing provided a caveat about "singleton" stations, which are more likely to be minority- or women-owned than other stations.

"We recommend that the commission be alert to the possibility that a cross-media combination, with strong newspaper, television and radio outlets in a medium (or small) market, can have sufficient market power to operate as a material detriment to minority and women ownership," the advocacy group said.

 The FCC is collecting and vetting comments on that study before it proceeds with deciding whether and how to modify its media-ownership rules.