October 26, 2017 Last Updated 1:16 pm

FCC media ownership vote rules set for Nov. 16

There was a time when newspapers were so powerful that it was considered a good thing that they could not also own a local television station in the same city as the newspaper. There were a few grandfathered exceptions, such as The Tribune Company’s ownership of WGN and the Chicago Tribune, but for the most part the rule has stood.

But on November 16 the rules will surely be thrown out as FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is determined to promote media consolidation. Now, however, it will be powerful broadcast companies that will likely want to be the buyers.

The new rules would allow newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership, radio-TV cross-ownership, multiple station ownership in the same market, as well as the same company owning two of the top four stations within the same market.

Not surprisingly, big broadcasters are thrilled.

“We commend Chairman Pai for acknowledging the realities of the modern video and media marketplace, and for planning updates to broadcast ownership rules enacted in the last century before the internet became ubiquitous,” said Dave Lougee, president and CEO, TEGNA Inc.

“NAB strongly supports Chairman’s Pai plan for modernizing broadcast media ownership rules,” said NAB spokesman Dennis Wharton. “This nonsensical regulatory approach has harmed the economic underpinning of newspapers, reduced local journalism jobs, and punished free and local broadcasters at the expense of our pay TV and radio competitors. We look forward to rational media ownership rules that foster a bright future for broadcasters and our tens of millions of listeners and viewers.”

While proponents of the new rules say they have harmed newspapers, it is likely newspapers not owned by big broadcasters that will be the most harmed by the new rules as they will find it hard to compete with broadcasters with a stranglehold on their markets when allowed to own multiple stations or multiple platforms in the same market.

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