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FCC Cross-Ownership rules: A corrupt deal between Old Media and government from beginning to end 11/13/07

Posted by Steve Boriss in Cross-ownership, FCC.
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The 1975 FCC rule prohibiting companies from owning both a newspaper and broadcast station in the same local market began for the wrong reasons and may soon end for the wrong reasons. Don’t believe any of the claptrap you may have heard about how such legislation protects the public by keeping the press “independent” or ensuring “diversity.” It is nothing more than a stinky deal between Old Media and the government that has protected both of them at the expense of the people.

For Old Media companies, it provided protection against being acquired or facing tougher competition. For government, it provided protection against any citizen’s voice growing to be more powerful than its own. The very passage of this free speech and free press-abridging rule broke the First Amendment’s promise that “Congress shall make no law” doing exactly that. Consequently, the public has been artificially stuck for decades with newspapers that are at best mediocre, when they could have benefited from, for instance, successful papers entering from other markets and competing for their business – something that would have happened in just about any other, less corrupt industry.

The FCC is now considering loosening this cross-ownership rule just a tad, not for the public good, but only as a favor to Old-Media-member-in-good-standing Los Angeles Times. This paper now faces the real possibility of extinction unless another Old Media company is allowed to buy them (presumably because only an Old Media company would be foolish enough to do such a thing). The FCC could at the same time consider the lifting of other similar regulations that hurt the public, such as those that limit ownership of radio stations, radio networks, TV stations, and TV networks. But then, that would be for the public good, not for the good of a member of Old Media. Guess that’s too much to expect these days in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

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