Last updated: February 21, 2008 - 11:14am
FCC LIFTS NEWSPAPER-BROADCAST CROSSOWNERSHIP BAN
FCC Lifts Newspaper-Broadcast Ban
Statements by Commissioners
Congress Vows to Fight FCC on Ownership Regs
Hill, Activists, Are Cross About Crossownership Move
Publishers, Broadcasters hail Decision
Bush Administration Backs Martin on Media Ownership Vote
MINORITY AND FEMALE MEDIA OWNERSHIP
FCC Moves to Diversify Broadcast Ownership
Statements by Commissioners
FCC Adopts 30% Cable Ownership Cap
Statements by Commissioners
National Cable & Telecommunications Association Statement
FCC LIFTS NEWSPAPER-BROADCAST CROSSOWNERSHIP BAN
FCC AGREES TO NEW MEDIA OWNERSHIP REFORM
[SOURCE: Associated Press, AUTHOR: John Dunbar]
The Federal Communications Commission, overturning a 32-year-old ban, voted Tuesday to allow broadcasters in the nation's 20 largest media markets to also own a newspaper. FCC Chairman Kevin Martin was joined by his two Republican colleagues in favor of the proposal, while the commission's two Democrats voted against it. Commissioners Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein blasted Chairman Martin for making changes to the proposal "in the dead of night" and just before the meeting that created new ownership loopholes instead of closing them, as he pledged during a recent hearing on Capitol Hill. Commissioners Copps and Adelstein indicated that the Commission was granting newspaper-broadcast waivers to 42 current combinations; Commissioner McDowell said the FCC was simply grandfathering those combinations in view of the changing marketplace that offered "boundless" opportunities to tap into media voices.
* Divided US FCC eases media ownership curbs
* FCC Loosens Newspaper-Broadcast Cross-Ownership Limits
The Commission will presume that newspaper-broadcast combinations in the top 20 markets are in the public interest so long as eight independent voices, including newspapers, remain and the stations are not among the top four in the market. It will also allow newspaper-radio combinations but require no voices test. Newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership would also be presumed to be in the public interest in markets smaller than the top 20 so long as at least seven hours of local news is added to a station that did not do it before, or if the station or newspaper is in financial distress. The latter is defined as a station or newspaper that has gone dark at least four months before a waiver is filed for, or a station that has less than 4% of the audience, where there has been negative cash flow for at least three years (newspaper or station) and where no out-of-market buyer wants it.
* FCC Reshapes Rules Limiting Media Industry
* FCC Votes to Ease Media-Ownership Rules
* Divided FCC Enacts Rules On Media Ownership
* FCC eases rule on media ownership
* FCC relaxes media ownership rule
* FCC votes to open media markets
* New Media Ownership Rules
* FCC Opts for More Media Concentration, Reformers Protest
* FCC press release:
_Statements by Commissioners_
* Chairman Martin
"When we began eighteen months ago, the Commission committed to conducting this proceeding in a manner that was more open and allowed for more public participation. I believe that is what the Commission has done."
* Commissioner Copps: "Today's decision would make George Orwell proud. We claim to be giving the news industry a shot in the arm-but the real effect is to reduce total newsgathering. We shed crocodile tears for the financial plight of newspapers-yet the truth is that newspaper profits are about double the S&P 500 average. We pat ourselves on the back for holding six field hearings across the United States-yet today's decision turns a deaf ear to the thousands of Americans who waited in long lines for an open mike to testify before us. We say we have closed loopholes-yet we have introduced new ones. We say we are guided by public comment-yet the majority's decision is overwhelmingly opposed by the public as demonstrated in our record and in public opinion surveys. We claim the mantle of scientific research-even as the experts say we've asked the wrong questions, used the wrong data, and reached the wrong conclusions."
** See also -- Michael Copps: Consolidation 1, Public Interest 0
* Commissioner Adelstein: "By moving forward now with relaxation of the newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership rule, the majority ignores the repeated pleas of the American people and their representatives in Congress. There is no time-sensitive issue that compels us to act today. In fact, we were asked by leaders in Congress, including our oversight committees, to defer today and conduct a more inclusive process. That we are moving forward when the voices that matter are asking us to refrain defies the imagination. The FCC has never attempted such a brazen act of defiance against Congress. Like the Titanic, we are steaming at full speed despite repeated warnings of danger ahead. We should have slowed down rather than put everything at risk."
* Commissioner Tate: "Increases in broadband penetration have transformed the Internet into a viable platform for streaming full-length video programming, with more content moving online daily. And our mobile phones now provide us with stock quotes, email and news updates from sources locally and around the globe. With the multiplicity of sources now available at the click of a button, the historic concerns underlying the newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership ban would seem to be alleviated."
* Commissioner McDowell: "[I]f consumers and content providers want to bypass the media technologies of yesteryear in favor of new media, they can. And they are. In fact, the evidence in the record tells us that if you are under 30, you are probably not reading a traditional newspaper or tuning in to your local broadcasters. You may never do so, at least not in the way the over-30 crowd does. It is precisely this type of paradigm shift that Congress and the courts have charged the Commission with weighing heavily as we revise our media ownership rules"
CONGRESS VOWS TO FIGHT FCC ON OWNERSHIP REGS
[SOURCE: TVWeek, AUTHOR: Ira Teinowitz]
Congressional opponents of media consolidation are greeting the FCC’s vote to ease its media-ownership rules as a call to battle, and they are promising the fight isn’t over. “We’re not done with this, not by a long shot,” said Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND) hours after the FCC vote. Suggesting the vote was an example of “a commission bent on doing the bidding of big corporate interests at the expense of the American people,” Sen. Dorgan said he will offer legislation in the Senate to overturn it. Sen. John Kerry (D-MA)) meanwhile, said he would try to prevent the FCC from spending funds to enforce the rule change. Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) said that the FCC had “put big corporate interests ahead of the people’s interests.” In the House, Rep. Edward J. Markey, D-Mass., chairman of the House Energy & Commerce Committee telecom committee, expressed disappointment and concern that the FCC at the last minute added to the proposal waivers allowing media companies to keep newspapers and broadcasters in the same town. Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) expressed some hope that the FCC’s funding to enforce the rule would be quickly removed in appropriations bills.
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* Obama Slams Media-Ownership Decision
"Today, the FCC failed to further the important goal of promoting diversity in the media and instead chose to put big corporate interests ahead of the people's interests.... I am disappointed that the FCC failed to meet its obligations to diverse communities and ensure that broadcasters are doing right by the communities in which they operate," he said. "Congress will not stand by and allow the FCC to move forward with these regulatory changes, and I will urge my colleagues to push forward legislation that ensures that any changes will be evaluated and modified in a transparent and inclusive process and fully take into account the interests of our women- and minority-owned outlets and communities."
* House Commerce Committee Chairman John Dingell (D-MI):
"Despite specific bipartisan and bicameral opposition, the Federal Communications Commission acted arrogantly and brazenly today to weaken the newspaper/broadcast cross-ownership ban. While the Commission did tighten some loopholes in the rule, I am greatly displeased that the Chairman chose to vote on this important issue a mere week after hundreds of pages of comment were submitted on his proposed rule. I question whether the Commission gave adequate, or any, consideration to the public’s input. I am also deeply dismayed that the Commission granted dozens of waivers of the new rule without any opportunity for public comment. The Commission has squandered an opportunity to reach agreement on even more meaningful ways to provide concrete benefits to consumers in the form of more minority media ownership and attention to localism. The FCC is a creature of Congress, and these matters will be the subject of rigorous oversight by the Committee on Energy and Commerce."
* House Telecom Subcommittee Chairman Ed Markey (D-MA):
* Rep Maurice Hinchey (D-NY)
HILL, ACTIVISTS, ARE CROSS ABOUT CROSSOWNERSHIP MOVE
* MAP Threatens to Take Cross-Ownership Decision to Court
Media Access Project President Andrew Schwartzman: "Today’s action is far more radical, and much more outrageous, than what chairman [Kevin] Martin proposed just a few weeks ago. We are not mollified by the fact that the changes are not as extreme as what the FCC attempted to do in 2003 or by the FCC’s long-overdue initiative to make broadcasters more responsive to their communities. [Martin] caved in to lobbying from the media giants, giving a pass to them so that they can retain TV and radio stations they were supposed to have divested months and years ago. And he is even giving Rupert Murdoch a new crack at keeping two huge TV stations in New York despite his acquisition of The Wall Street Journal." Schwartzman said that unless an effort in the Senate to nullify the vote is successful, "we’re going to have to go back to court to make sure the public isn't harmed by this ill-advised action.”
* Free Press Blasts FCC Media Ownership Vote
"FCC Chairman Kevin Martin is ignoring the public will and defying the U.S. Senate. His decision to gut longstanding ownership rules shows once again how the largest media companies — with their campaign contributions and high-powered lobbyists — are corrupting the policymaking process at the expense of local news coverage and independent voices."
* New Ownership Rules Threaten Diversity, Necessitate Clearer Public Interest Obligations
Benton Foundation: "The change to media ownership rules adopted today offer opportunities for new owners of US television stations. Unleashing a wave of television ownership deals, the FCC must define now what will be expected of these new owners. The FCC must issue clear guidelines to ensure that broadcasters adhere to the law and serve the local educational, informational, civic, minority, disability and security needs of the children and adults in the communities that TV stations are licensed to serve. To move ahead on allowing new companies to become owners of TV stations without first defining their public interest responsibilities is a bad deal for local communities."
* UCC media justice advocates condemn FCC decision to relax ownership rules
"This decision supports powerful corporate interests at the expense of the average person's right to access inclusive, locally-based, grassroots media. It concentrates media into the hands of the elite few to the detriment of the many -- especially diverse audiences," said the Rev. J. Bennett Guess, the UCC's director of communications. "It flies in the face of everything the UCC and our media justice partners have been advocating for decades."
* FCC vote lifting cross-owernship ban shows agency still doesn't get it
Common Cause: "The FCC still doesn’t seem to get it: Media consolidation is bad for America. Today’s vote to allow greater media consolidation is merely a handout to big business at the expense of the public. For Americans to get the information they need to participate in our democracy, we need more diverse sources of information not fewer."
_Publishers, Broadcasters hail Decision_
* Newspaper Association of America
"The FCC has finally taken modest action to chip away at the obsolete newspaper cross-ownership ban after more than three decades. Few, if any, issues have been examined more thoroughly by the FCC in recent history, and the Commission’s order responds to a congressional requirement to review the rules and a court remand that occurred three years ago. Today’s vote is only a baby step in the actions needed to maintain the vitality of local news, in print and over-the-air, in all communities across the nation."
* NAB statement: "We are pleased the FCC has adopted a revised newspaper/broadcast cross-ownership rule, recognizing that a 30-year-old complete ban is no longer justified. While we think the adopted changes are modest, we believe they are an important step forward in aligning broadcasting regulations with the realities of today's communications marketplace. We will also be reviewing closely the FCC's 'localism' proposal, a proceeding that carries grave First Amendment implications and which stems from a false notion that radio and television stations have abandoned our commitment to serving communities or have stopped offering distinctive local programming. From coast to coast, local broadcasters are saving lives every day with Amber Alerts, emergency weather warnings, and coverage of natural disasters. The record shows that broadcasters have an unmatched tradition of serving the public interest, and as the FCC found in the 1980s, onerous regulations can have the unintended consequence of reducing programming quality."
* NAB Praises Ownership Move, Will Monitor Localism Proposals
BUSH ADMINISTRATION BACKS MARTIN ON MEDIA OWNERSHIP VOTE
[SOURCE: Broadcasting&Cable, AUTHOR: John Eggerton]
In a letter from Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez to the leaders of the Senate and its Commerce Commitee, the Bush administration made it clear that it supports Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin Martin's effort to loosen the newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership ban. In his letter, Sec Gutierrez called loosening the ban a boon to the public interest. "The FCC has crafted changes that appropriately take into account the myriad of news and information outlets that exist today. Modernization of the media-ownership rules will help to protect the public interest by providing greater financial viability to news and broadcast outlets struggling to survive in this competitive environment."
MINORITY AND FEMALE MEDIA OWNERSHIP
FCC MOVES TO DIVERSIFY BROADCAST OWNERSHIP
[SOURCE: Federal Communications Commission]
adopted a Report and Order (Order) which will expand opportunities for participation in the broadcasting industry by new entrants and small businesses, including minority- and women-owned businesses, to own broadcast outlets. Specifically, in this Order the Commission: 1) Changes its construction permit deadlines to allow "eligible entities" that acquire expiring construction permits additional time to build out the facility; 2) Revises the Commission's equity/debt plus ("EDP") attribution standard to facilitate investment in eligible entities; 3) Modifies the Commission's distress sale policy to allow a licensee - whose license has been designated for a revocation hearing or whose renewal application has been designated for a hearing on basic qualifications issues - to sell its station to an "eligible entity" prior to the commencement of the hearing; 4) Adopts an Equal Transactional Opportunity Rule that bars race or gender in broadcast transactions; 5) Adopts a "zero-tolerance" policy for ownership fraud and "fast-track" ownership-fraud claims and seek to resolve them within 90 days; 6) Requires broadcasters renewing their licenses to certify that their advertising sales contracts do not discriminate on the basis of race or gender; 7) Encourages local and regional banks to participate in SBA-guaranteed loan programs in order to facilitate broadcast and telecommunications-related transactions; 8) Gives priority to any entity financing or incubating an eligible entity in certain duopoly situations; 9) Considers requests to extend divestiture deadlines in mergers in which applicants have actively solicited bids for divested properties from eligible entities; 10) Convenes an "Access-to-Capital" conference that will focus on the investment banking and private equity communities and opportunities to acquire financing, and; 10) Announces the creation of a guidebook on diversity that focuses on what companies can do to promote diversity in ownership and contracting. 11) Revises the exception to the prohibition on the assignment or transfer of grandfathered radio station combinations.
_Statements by Commissioners_
* Martin: "In order to ensure that the American people have the benefit of a competitive and diverse media marketplace, we need to create more opportunities for different, new and independent voices to be heard. The Commission has recently taken steps to address the concern that there are too few local outlets available to minorities and new entrants."
* Copps: "So while I can certainly support the few positive changes in this item that do not depend on the definitional issue-such as the adoption of a clear non-discrimination rule-these are overshadowed by the truly wasted opportunity to give potential minority and female owners a seat at the table they have been waiting for and have deserved for far too long. My fear now is that with cross ownership done, the attentions of this Commission will turn elsewhere."
* Adelstein: "Despite ... clear and unequivocal mandates to facilitate ownership and participation by new entrants, women and people of color, the Commission has been so hesitant to act it seems to be moving in slow motion. Consequently, it has been standard operating procedure that, as we finally near completion of an item addressing women and minority ownership, so much time has gone by that the Commission has had to start all over again."
* Tate: "This Order adopts more than a dozen proposals, all aimed at the promotion of ownership by women and minorities, groups that have historically been terribly underrepresented in the leadership of this important industry."
* McDowell: "In considering the important issues we decide today, we explore a vexing question: what can the FCC do to promote ownership among people of color and women? Many positive and constructive ideas before the Commission may be hobbled by Supreme Court rulings regarding race-specific remedies on one side, and a lack of statutory authority for doing much more on the other side. Like it or not, whatever the Commission does must withstand constitutional muster to succeed. What we have done in this Order is to focus on the possible -- and the legally sustainable. While perhaps imperfect and incomplete, I hope the ideas we adopt today will increase ownership of traditional media properties by women and people of color."
FCC ADOPTS 30% CABLE OWNERSHIP CAP
[SOURCE: Multichannel News, AUTHOR: Ted Hearn]
As expected, the Federal Communications Commission adopted a rule Tuesday afternoon that bars any cable company in the U.S. from serving more than 30% of all pay-TV subscribers nationally. The rule mostly likely stops Comcast from making a big cable acquisition since the largest cable company in the U.S. has 27% market share under FCC rules on how to count cable subscribers. The cable industry is expected to appeal the new rule in federal court. The FCC’s action was approved by Republican FCC chairman Kevin Martin and the agency’s two Democrats, Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein the same majority that voted Nov. 27 to slash cable leased access rates by 75%.
* FCC Passes 30% Cap on Cable Operators’ Subscriber Counts
* FCC press release
The Federal Communications Commission adopted rules to promote video programming diversity by ensuring new video programmers can enter and compete in the video market. The Order adopted by the Commission today sets the number of subscribers a cable operator may serve at 30 percent nationwide. In a further notice also adopted, the Commission seeks comment on vertical ownership limits and cable and broadcast attribution rules. Today's action will increase competition in the multichannel video programming market and provide consumers with greater programming choices and diversity. The Commission seeks further comment on key issues relating to the appropriate vertical ownership limit - and how to address related attribution including issues: 1) The appropriate methodology for determining the limit; 2) How to define the relevant programming and distribution markets; 3) The extent to which vertically integrated cable operators have an incentive to engage in anticompetitive behavior that could lead to foreclosure of entry by unaffiliated programmers; and 4) The validity of certain academic studies and whether they establish that vertical foreclosure is occurring despite recent changes in the marketplace.
_Statements by Commissioners_
* Martin: "Today's Order provides appropriate justification for a 30% limit on horizontal ownership. We therefore respond to the D.C. Circuit and Congress's mandate. In so doing, we ensure that a single operator cannot unduly limit the viability of a new independent network in its formative years. As Congress observed, it is important that we "ensure that no cable operator or group of cable operators can unfairly impede, either because of the size of any individual cable operator or because of joint actions by a group of operators of sufficient size, the flow of video programming from the video programmer to the consumer."
* Copps: "I'm pleased that we have finally complied with our statutory obligation and the 2001 court remand and re-established our horizontal cable ownership limit. The 30% limit should help ensure that no cable operator, because of its size, is able to unfairly impede the flow of video programming to consumers. Although the percentage cap remains the same, the underlying economic justification is quite different and is, I believe, completely responsive to the issues raised by the D.C. Circuit Court. I recognize that setting a prophylactic limit like this is never easy, and inevitably involves some line-drawing that can always be second-guessed. But just because the task Congress gave us is difficult is no reason to shirk it."
* Adelstein: "Our media frames our society both as an outlet for individual expression and as a reflection of our collective values, diversity, and creative voices. With so much riding on the vitality, openness, and diversity of our media, this Commission has an obligation to engage in a careful, comprehensive and thoughtful review of our ownership rules for cable systems, which serve as the primary video delivery platform for so many American consumers."
* Tate: "Programmers today have a greater variety of options than ever before, and are constantly trying new business models, new platforms, new ways of producing and presenting their content. Cable operators are no longer the gatekeepers they may once have been. And where programmers feel they are being unfairly denied carriage, the FCC has a complaint process in place to deal with such disputes. Therefore, it is difficult to see why, in this increasingly diverse video marketplace, the FCC would once again seek to institute a 30% limit on the size of their customer base."
* McDowell: "1) The cap is out-of-date, is bad public policy and is not needed in today's market; 2) The court is sure to strike down the cap again; and 3) The cap is contrary to the existing policy goals of this Commission by creating regulatory disparity and asymmetry.
NATIONAL CABLE & TELECOMMUNICATIONS ASSOCIATION STATEMENT
"[T]he U.S. Court of Appeals soundly rejected on First Amendment grounds the precise cable ownership cap that the Commission adopted again today. The Court of Appeals found such a cap to be unjustified and out of touch with the competitive marketplace as it existed six years ago. In the intervening years, competition among satellite, telephone and cable companies and the variety and amount of independent programming has only increased. We are confident that a court will again reject conclusions driven by a political agenda to target the cable industry that are completely at odds with the realities of a dynamic and competitive marketplace that is providing greater consumer choice and value.”
- FCC Publishes Final Orders on Newspaper-Broadcast Cross-Ownership Rules
- FCC Grants Transfer of Control of Fox Television Stations to Fox Entertainment Group
- FCC Grants Applications for Transfer of Control of Tribune Company
- FCC Chief Martin defends media ownership plan
- FCC Picks Ownership Studies; Copps Takes Aim
- FCC Chairman Martin: Repeal of Cross-Ownership Ban Overdue
- Martin Stands Firm on Date of Media Vote at Senate Hearing
- FCC Portland Localism Hearing Recap
- FCC’s Copps Calls for News Corp.-Wall Street Journal Inquiry
- FCC Expected To Vote On Proposed Media Ownership Changes Today
- 25 Senators Write Martin, Urging Him to Delay Dec. 18 Vote
- FCC Media Ownership Rules Update
- FCC Meeting Recap
- The End Is Near?
- FCC Chicago Media Ownership Hearing Recap