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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

FCC Approves Deregulation of Ownership Rules

posted by on December 18 at 12:14 PM

Posted by news intern Brian Slodysko

The FCC today overturned rules governing media ownership, paving the way for consolidation of newspaper and broadcast ownership in the 20 largest markets in the United States

From the AP:

The Federal Communications Commission voted Tuesday to overturn a 32-year-old ban and allow broadcasters in the nation’s 20 largest media markets to also own a newspaper.

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin was joined by his two Republican colleagues in favor of the proposal, while the commission’s two Democrats voted against it.

Martin pushed the vote through despite intense pressure from House and Senate members on Capitol Hill to delay it. The chairman, however, has the support of the White House, which has pledged to turn back any congressional action that seeks to undo the agency vote.

At Tuesday’s meeting, the chairman described the media ownership proceeding as “the most contentious and divisive issue” to come before him.

That proved true as the two Democrats in the commission blasted the proposal in unusually strong language for the normally sedate agency.

Martin, noting the steady decline in revenue for newspapers, said his proposal “strikes a balance” between the changing media marketplace and the need to protect diversity and competition.

The Democrats blasted the chairman for making changes to the proposal “in the dead of night” and just before the meeting that created new ownership loopholes instead of closing them, as he pledged during a recent hearing on Capitol Hill.

“Anybody who thinks our processes are open, thoughtful or deliberative should think twice in light of these nocturnal escapades,” said Democrat Jonathan Adelstein.

The new rules have been decried by Congress and citizens concerned about media consolidation. They’ve lambasted FCC Chairman Kevin Martin for trying to slip one past the goalie by holding a series of last-minute citizen input panels across the country, including one in Seattle. The two Democratic members of the FCC called the meetings mere formalities.

The Tribune Co., the Chicago Tribune’s parent company, has been one of the bigest proponents of the rule change. The Tribune Co. had an $8.2 billion buyout deal riding on the FCC’s decision—a buyout that would transfer the ownership of the Chicago Tribune, the LA Times, and 21 other daily newspapers and 11 broadcast stations to real estate tycoon Samuel Zell. The company’s existing cross-ownership of TV and newspapers was allowed because the cross-ownership predated rules barring such deals; the sale could not be completed until the rules were relaxed.

RSS icon Comments


Kevin Martin's a soulless toady prick. Congress needs to act in response to this move.

Posted by DOUG. | December 18, 2007 12:17 PM

I was going to call him a fuckwad, but Doug, "soulless toady prick" is so much more just and, well, poetic.

Posted by Tlazolteotl | December 18, 2007 12:25 PM

I am Jack's complete lack of surprise.

Posted by Tyler Durden | December 18, 2007 12:26 PM

The media has already completely adicated all of its role in this democracy. I guess it could get worse if Rupert Murdoch owned everything, but I already feel like you have to go outside the US to have any idea what's going on inside the US.

As a funny aside, this is the headline from the Wall Street Journal this morning: Industry Seethes as FCC Sets Curbs. Has Murdoch taken over already? This looks like the Fox News adage of reporting the exact opposite of the truth.

Posted by left coast | December 18, 2007 12:26 PM

Sons-of-bitches salting the earth before they're thrown out on their sorry asses next year.

Posted by More To Come | December 18, 2007 12:27 PM

Outrageous, but not surprising.

Posted by James | December 18, 2007 12:35 PM

No chance Murdoch will buy up the publisher of The Stranger is there? The thought of Dan answering to Murdoch just makes me laugh my ass off!!

Posted by Just me | December 18, 2007 12:47 PM

left coast,

what is being falsely reported? I checked out that WSJ piece, and yes, some in the industry are seething, mostly about a 30% market share cap for cable companies.

Posted by chunkstyle | December 18, 2007 12:53 PM

With any luck at all, these big media companies will all be dead in a few years anyways.

Posted by Fnarf | December 18, 2007 1:01 PM

DOUG @ 1,

Congress can act fast, but unless they get a veto-proof majority to pass it, it won't do any good. We can only hope that there aren't deals that have already been negotiated in anticipation of this because once they go through it'll be hell to undo the damage, if not impossible - January 20, 2009 is still over a year away and there's no guarantee we'll have a Dem president on that day.

Posted by Matt from Denver | December 18, 2007 1:01 PM

When he's burning in Hell, I hope the FCC chairman steals GWB's and Cheney's pitchforks ...

Posted by Will in Seattle | December 18, 2007 1:36 PM

Crap, I really should read the entire post before I comment. The last paragraph details exactly the kind of deal I wrote about @ 10. Oh well, live and learn.

Posted by Matt from Denver | December 18, 2007 1:39 PM

Today's Top Stories:
Real estate tycoon Samuel Zell donates millions to charity. Local churches, philanthropists express thanks. Photos page 11.

Pg B2: Housing market correction means deals for home buyers. Market 'stabilizing," experts say.

Pg L1: Check out the latest upscale Chicago condos in our Urban Living section!

Posted by flamingbanjo | December 18, 2007 1:45 PM

That pretty much sounds like the PI any day of the week....

Posted by NapoleonXIV | December 18, 2007 1:53 PM

I think that the meeting would have been much more realistic if the repub members of the FCC board came out in front of the public, dropped trou, wiggled their tiny little dicks, flipped the bird and walked off stage. Because that is basically what they did.

Posted by wisepunk | December 18, 2007 2:00 PM

Yeah, the lizzards don't sleep, and their keepers are easily distracted by the food and beads.

What a freakin' joke.

Posted by observer | December 18, 2007 2:19 PM

Remember when Colin Powell's son was the chairman of the FCC

that was hilarious

Posted by Lake | December 18, 2007 3:19 PM

chunkstyle, you know who should be seething? The authors of the federalist papers that's who. there is no corporate interest that has not benefitted during the past 7 seven years - you should go read that vanity fair piece that was posted today. changes were railroaded through allowing consolidation that is absolutely against the public's interest. the industry is 'seething' because they didn't get to write the legislation? do you really think that is an accurate reporting of what happened to day? they are dancing, and once again democracy is the worse. wake up.

Posted by left coast | December 18, 2007 4:09 PM

left coast,

Well, you are obviously passionate about the subject matter. I was merely asking about your implication that the WSJ was reporting falsehood or in your words, "the exact opposite of truth". In fact, the article reported some in the industry were seething about FCC regulations, and that is substantiated by the contents therein.

Where is the false reporting you allege? It's not there, as far as I can see.

Posted by chunkstyle | December 18, 2007 5:45 PM

Folks, I really don't think this decision is that bad. I've done some work with NAB, and I think that this legislation is a step in the right direction toward letting local media properties acquire corporate resources.

Check out what Tech Dirt said --

"First, there are more sources of media than ever before in history -- by a long shot. To think that a single TV station or newspaper can dominate the conversation is laughable. Second, since it can't involve a top 4 TV station, it's hard to believe that this new entity will have all that much dominance in the market. There seems to be nothing wrong with this proposal."

Posted by Chinook | December 19, 2007 1:27 PM

NAB? The National Association of Broadcasters? AKA the lobbying group for corporate media?

Posted by I smell something... | December 19, 2007 1:39 PM

NAB is a trade association. I'd love to hear what you think about Tech Dirt's post.

Posted by Chinook | December 19, 2007 2:50 PM

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