Subcommittee Looks at Broadcast Ownership Issues

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The House Communications Subcommittee is holding a hearing June 6 on the future of audio, and while its focus is on radio, the discussion will also include the continued need for ownership rules that implicate TV station ownership rules.

According to the Republican majority staff memo for the hearing, among the regulatory issues that "may arise" are the newspaper/broadcast cross-ownership rule, which the Federeal Communications Commission under Democratic chairman Julius Genachowski has proposed loosening, as did the commission under his Republican predecessor. That rule prohibits the co-ownership of radio/TV stations with newspapers, excepted in cases of grandfathered combos or ones granted waivers.

"Opponents of the ban are once again urging the Commission to eliminate it in light of increased competition and because newspapers are struggling in the current marketplace," the Republican staffers said in the memo.

The staffers say the hearing may also deal with the radio-TV cross-ownership rules, which limit how many TV and radio stations one owner can have in a market.

The FCC is currently preparing its proposed changes to media ownership rules in response ot a court remand of the old rules and its quadrennial rule review mandated by Congress.

The hearing is one of a series that subcommittee chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) signaled he would be holding on the future of media.