Copyright 2002 Boston Herald Inc. The Boston
September 11, 2002 Wednesday ALL
SECTION: FINANCE; Pg. 030
LENGTH: 384 words
Media ownership rules in question; Today may be launch of FCC evaluation
BYLINE: By GREG GATLIN
BODY: Federal regulators are slated to begin a broad
review of media ownership rules tomorrow with an eye toward overhauling what
some say are outdated limits on broadcasters and newspaper publishers.
Many industry observers predict that easing ownership
restrictions, especially regarding broadcast outlets, could trigger a wave of
media mergers and consolidation.
Communications Commission, which had been reviewing various ownership rules in
piecemeal fashion, said in June that it plans to issue a single report and order
dealing with potential rule changes.
The FCC's five
commissioners are expected to vote tomorrow to formally begin that lengthy
process. Any resulting changes are not expected before spring 2003, and would
likely take longer to kick in.
The decision to consider
media ownership rules in their entirety comes after a series of court rulings
that took aim at specific limits, particularly on broadcasters.
Courts have told the FCC to justify ownership limits, arguing that its
rules aimed at maintaining media diversity, competition and local ownership are
based on fears, hunch and intuition, rather than factual evidence. The rules
also have been faulted as inconsistent.
Michael Powell has suggested the current rules no longer serve their purpose.
The FCC will consider six ownership rules, including:
** A ban on ownership of TV or radio stations and
newspapers in the same market;
** Limits on the number
of radio stations that one entity can own in a single market;
** A rule that caps the reach of any one broadcast owner to 35 percent
of the national TV audience;
** A rule banning the big
four networks from merging;
** Limits on ownership of
multiple TV stations in the same market;
** Radio-TV cross-ownership restrictions.
Ferree, chief of the FCC's media bureau, said in June that the commission
must make ownership rules "judicially sustainable" and that considering the
rules together will make that task easier.
of easing the ownership rules argue that there's much more diversity and
competition across the media landscape with cable, the Internet and other
Opponents say easing the limits could give a
few giant publishers and broadcasters too much media power within communities