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FCC Withdraws Proposal That Would Have Relaxed Ban on Owning Multiple Media Outlets in Same Market

December 17, 2013

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has withdrawn a proposal to relax a long-standing ban on owning multiple media outlets in the same market.

As The Wall Street Journal reports, a draft item that then-FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski circulated more than a year ago would have eliminated the rule on having control of both a radio station and newspaper in one marketplace.

If enacted, the proposal would also have cleared the way for smaller TV stations to own newspapers — a change that the struggling newspaper industry pushed. Under new chairman Tom Wheeler, the commission now says it has taken Genachowski’s proposal off the table while it reassesses the issue.

To prevent a single entity from dominating local news, the FCC has been limiting the number of stations that one company can have. The commission also generally bars cross-ownership of newspaper and broadcast media.

Both the newspaper and broadcast industries have lobbied the FCC to relax that ban, which the commission has tried to do twice before — most recently in 2007 — only to have the courts rebuff it.

Last February, Genachowski agreed to delay his order, pending a study from the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council on the effects of the cross-ownership rules on minority media ownership and newsgathering.

The study, released in June after Genachowski had left the FCC, largely supported relaxing the cross-ownership rules, and raising the ire of groups that oppose media consolidation. — Greg Beaubien


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