Privacy Policy

Copyright 2002
of America

The Issue of Newspaper/Broadcast Cross-Ownership and NAA's Views

In 1975, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted a regulation prohibiting the grant of a broadcast license to anyone who owns a newspaper in the same market. NAA is seeking the repeal of this onerous rule.

Despite the completion of a full notice and comment period in February 2002 on whether the FCC should retain, modify or repeal the newspaper/broadcast cross-ownership ban, the FCC has failed to publish a final rule. In June 2002 after court decisions in which two FCC broadcast ownership rules where remanded, the Commission announced its intentions of combining its review of five broadcast ownership rules, including the newspaper/broadcast cross-ownership ban, into one large proceeding. The Commission is expected to release for comment several studies on how consumers use the media, how advertisers substitute among different outlet types and how the media market has changed over time. These studies will be completed by mid-fall 2002. After which the Commission will commence a comprehensive biennial review of the five broadcast ownership regulations (newspaper/broadcast cross-ownership ban, the national broadcast television cap, the television duopoly rule, the TV-radio and the dual network rules). A final decision is not expect until mid-year 2003.

Molly Hemsley, Director of Government Affairs & Legislative Counsel.

Newspaper Association of America’s
Views on the Newspaper/Broadcast Cross-Ownership Restriction

  • NAA supports repeal of the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) rule prohibiting the granting of a broadcast station license to any party who "directly or indirectly owns, operates or controls" a daily newspaper published in the same community.
  • In 1975, without any record of evidence that cross-owned stations engaged in anti-competitive practices or otherwise failed to serve the public interest, the FCC adopted this rule based solely upon speculative assumptions that it would promote diversity in the communications marketplace.
  • The Commission’s "hoped-for gain in diversity" has been achieved, not through government regulation, but through the technological revolution of the past two decades and the explosive growth in competition in mass media. While the number of daily newspapers has decreased, the number of weekly, specialized and alternative newspapers has increased, as have the number of licensed radio stations and television broadcast stations. In addition, we have seen the birth and rapid growth of a variety of competing communications outlets such as wired and wireless cable, satellite-delivered television and radio and the Internet.
  • The marketplace for news, information and entertainment has undergone a transformation so profound that the fears about media diversity that were the basis for adoption of the newspaper/broadcast cross-ownership rule in 1975 now are no longer justified, and the scarcity rationale is plainly insufficient to support continuation of the ban.
  • Further, newspapers and broadcast stations are virtually alone among the major information providers in facing an absolute governmental barrier to common ownership. Over the past ten years, the FCC has either eliminated or substantially relaxed nearly every other major limitation on broadcast ownership.
  • To compete effectively with the vast array of mass media outlets such as cable and other multi-channel providers, as well as print and computerized sources of news, information and entertainment, newspaper publishers and broadcasters need relief from the FCC’s outdated and discriminatory cross-ownership restriction.
  • In comments filed in several FCC proceedings, NAA demonstrated that this rule is no longer necessary in today’s highly competitive marketplace and should be eliminated.
  • NAA also is urging the introduction and passage of legislation mandating the repeal of this rule.