Copyright 2002 Boston Herald Inc. The Boston
June 11, 2002 Tuesday ALL EDITIONS
SECTION: FINANCE; Pg. 039
LENGTH: 399 words
Media ownership rules await change
BODY: Newspaper industry
insiders say rules that bar most companies from owning newspapers and broadcast
stations in the same market could be lifted by early next year or sooner,
despite a suggestion yesterday that the Federal Communications Commission will
take longer to act.
FCC Chairman Michael Powell has
said he wants to move carefully in relaxing federal media ownership limits that
many in the industry have complained are onerous and outdated. Some have also
complained the FCC's process is moving too slowly.
Yesterday, Powell reportedly told Bloomberg News that rule changes
could be more than a year away.
"We're shooting for a
pretty comprehensive solution in which the majority, if not all, of the major
proceedings is done before the summer of 2003," Powell said.
An FCC spokesman said those comments referred to rules regarding
cross-ownership of TV stations and newspapers, as well as other caps on audience
reach, local TV station ownership and cable-broadcast cross-ownership.
"The chairman is
referring to all the media ownership rules, including newspaper-broadcast
cross-ownership," spokesman David Fisk said.
But others say the FCC has indicated that newspaper-broadcast rule
changes would occur sooner than those affecting other ownership regulations,
some of which have been the focus of court decisions. They say rules limiting
newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership could be lifted by late this year, or early
The FCC said last September that it would
consider lifting the cross-ownership ban affecting newspapers and broadcasters.
The public-comment phase of changing the rules wrapped up in Febuary, said John
Sturm, president of the Newspaper Association of America.
"I'm both hopeful and optimistic that this proceeding is being done on
a separate and faster track, and will be completed sooner rather than later by
the commission," Sturm said.
Sturm's group supports
lifting the ban, and has argued that such limits are unfair to newspaper
publishers trying to compete in an age of multimedia giants with broadcast,
cable and Internet outlets.
Powell is also getting
pressure from two powerful Republican congressmen, Louisiana's W.J.
"Billy" Tauzin, head of the House commerce committee, and Michigan's Fred Upton,
who heads a subcommittee on telecommunications and the Internet. They sent
Powell a letter urging him to repeal the rule.