Skip banner Home   Sources   How Do I?   Site Map   What's New   Help  
Search Terms: "cross and ownership" w/10 media
Edit Search
Document ListExpanded ListKWICFULL format currently displayed   Previous Document Document 126 of 176. Next Document

Copyright 2001 The New York Times Company  
The New York Times

July 26, 2001, Thursday, Late Edition - Final

SECTION: Section B; Page 1; Column 5; Metropolitan Desk 

LENGTH: 986 words

HEADLINE: Two Stations, One Tabloid, One Owner


Federal regulators yesterday approved the News Corporation's acquisition of Chris-Craft Industries, paving the way for the company to gain unprecedented control over two of the main broadcast television stations in the New York market.

In a 3-to-2 vote, the Federal Communications Commission ruled that Fox Television Holdings, a subsidary of the News Corporation, could complete its $4.4 billion acquisition of Chris-Craft, which owns 10 television stations. The vote, which waived government rules against a single company's ownership of too many news media properties, means that the News Corporation will control The New York Post, WNYW-TV (Channel 5) and WWOR-TV (Channel 9).

The decision is expected to have far-reaching implications for the media business in New York. The work forces at the two stations are likely to be significantly reduced as their operations are combined, executives said. And industry officials say the acquisition will give Fox a tighter grip on a $1.5 billion advertising market.

"They don't have a lock on the market, they have a pretty strong knot," said Allen Kay, the chairman of Korey Kay & Partners, an advertising firm whose best-known clients include Virgin Records, Comedy Central and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. "It makes it pretty hard for us to ignore News Corp."

The acquisition could also heighten the political clout of the company's chairman, Rupert Murdoch, who has not been afraid of using his control of The New York Post to push his agenda.

"From a political point of view, Rupert already had immense power, starting off when he made the candidacy of Ed Koch, and he has a hundredfold more power today," said George Arzt, a political consultant who has worked for Mr. Murdoch at The Post and WNYW. "I think that he can't be ignored by any local politician, or for that matter, a national politician coming into New York."

The ruling by the F.C.C. could lead to further consolidation in the television broadcast industry, as it signals that the commission and its new chairman, Michael K. Powell, may be more ready to approve such deals than the commissioners were under the Clinton administration, media analysts said.

The F.C.C.'s approval of the deal overrides several of its rules on antitrust issues in the broadcast industry, including its long-standing national ownership cap, under which one entity cannot own stations that reach more than 35 percent of the nation's television audience.

Although Fox is not exempt from the cap, it has 12 months to comply with it. The commission voted not to enforce the cap until a federal court in Washington decides on a challenge to it.

The waiver granted yesterday involves a long-standing F.C.C. policy, a cross-ownership rule that prohibits the ownership of a television station and newspaper in the same media market. Mr. Murdoch had already been granted a permanent waiver for ownership of The New York Post and WNYW-TV.

In yesterday's ruling, the commission granted the News Corporation a two-year waiver, but many regulators think that the F.C.C., under Mr. Powell's leadership, will change the rule before the waiver expires.

Christopher R. Day, a lawyer for the Institute for Public Representation, which opposed the merger, said that his group hoped that Congress would "quickly take action to ensure that this commission does not let media diversity wither on the vine."

In a statement, Mr. Powell, a Republican appointed by President Bush, defended the commission's decision, saying that the positive aspects of the temporary waivers would "outweigh any temporary impact on diversity and competition and is in the public interest."

He added, "The New York market would still have 19 independent TV voices, over 120 commerical and noncommercial radio stations, 25 daily newspapers and hundreds of weekly papers."

The commission voted along party lines, with Republicans voting in the majority to approve the acquisition. The decision came 10 months after Fox submitted its application to the F.C.C., and after Susan Ness, a commissioner who was an opponent of consolidation, stepped down.

In a dissenting statement, Gloria Tristani, a commissioner and a Democrat, said the decision showed "the lengths the commission will go to avoid standing in the way of media mergers."

In New York, executives the News Corporation said that the newsrooms of WWOR and WNYW were not likely to be affected beyond the possible sharing of talent. But on the business side, officials are considering proposals to combine promotion, engineering and sales efforts.

In one of the first moves, a general manager is expected to be appointed to oversee both stations when the deal is completed, perhaps within weeks. "I don't think there is any big mystery here about what is going to happen," said Thomas Burnett, the president of Merger Insight, a financial research firm. "Having a duopoly gives them a lot of clout with advertisers," particularly when it comes to setting rates.

Andrew Butcher, a spokesman for the News Corporation, declined to comment on specific changes other than to say that "the newsrooms will remain separate," adding that he was "sure there will be consolidation of some parts of the two stations, but I am not sure what they will be yet."

The two stations would have a combined 11 percent share of viewers in the market, about the same audience share as the market leaders, WABC-TV and WNBC-TV, have.

Ted Faraone, a television consultant, cautioned that WWOR's broadcast license would virtually require the station to keep its newsroom in New Jersey, and that the stations' audiences were quite different.

"In Channel 5 you have the whitest audience in New York and in Channel 9 you have the blackest," he said. "And having them both controlled by a right-wing immigrant Australian who owns The New York Post could make for some interesting merger pains."

LOAD-DATE: July 26, 2001

Previous Document Document 126 of 176. Next Document
Terms & Conditions   Privacy   Copyright © 2003 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All Rights Reserved.