Copyright 2001 Boston Herald Inc. The Boston
May 9, 2001 Wednesday ALL EDITIONS
SECTION: FINANCE; Pg. 029
LENGTH: 903 words
Ownership ban vote is on hold
BYLINE: By Greg
BODY: A highly anticipated
rewrite of the ban on newspaper-broadcaster cross-ownership was put off by the
Federal Communications Commission yesterday, probably until at least next
FCC Chairman Michael Powell, a Republican, is
expected to hold up the controversial move until he has a clear majority on the
commission, currently split between Democrats and Republicans. One Democrat,
Susan Ness, plans to leave by June 1.
Tristani opposes relaxing the rules. Once Ness leaves, Powell is expected to
hold a 2-1 Republican advantage.
But sources say the
other Republican commissioner, Harold Furchtgott-Roth, wanted the proposed
change to do even more to lift the restrictions.
has made it clear that he opposes blanket federal limits on media holdings. But
any move to relax the ban on one person or company owning both a newspaper and a
TV or radio station in the same city is expected to draw fire from critics who
fear greater media concentration.
To change the rule,
the FCC must follow certain procedural steps. The first of those, posting a
notice of rulemaking, was expected yesterday and would have let the commission
take up the issue at tomorrow's meeting.
David Fiske said commissioners hash over proposed rule changes before clearing
specific wording. "It looked like they were not going to reach an agreement on
consensus language so the chairman took it off the agenda," he said.
"Items are generally pulled from an agenda if they don't
have a majority in favor," said Scott Cleland, chief of the Precursor Group, a
Washington research firm.
"The general thinking is this
entire rule is at risk," Cleland said. "There are near limitless
A lifting of the 26-year-old cross-ownership ban could shake up the media landscape as
publishers and broadcasters seek to combine.
FCC has spelled out the proposed change, the public has some time to comment,
then there is a period reserved for replies. Afterward, the commissioners can
take a final vote - which could come months later.
Observers say the issue could come up at the FCC's June 14 meeting.