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.
Status: 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
Newspaper Association of America’s
Views on the Newspaper/Broadcast Cross-Ownership
- 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
- 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.