The Washington Post’s Pulitzer Prize-winning scribe Tom Shales railed against the telecommunications deregulation bill that won approval in the Senate last week. In a piece headlined “The Fat Cat Broadcast Bonanza,” Shales wrote that the new bill has “something for everybody in the package,” except consumers, and that it was designed to give “broadcasters, cablecasters and gigantic media conglomerates fabulous prizes.”
Then on June 14, Shales went mano a mano with Barry Diller over the issue on “Nightline,” where anchor Ted Koppel disclosed for viewers that his bosses at Capital Cities/ABC had a stake in the debate.
Somewhere during his “Nightline” appearance or his piece in the Post, Shales might have noted that his bosses were also in the thick of the legislative battle. Bill Ryan, president of the Post-Newsweek Stations group, has been one of the industry’s most vocal opponents of changing TV station ownership rules, a key element of the bill.
Shales says he doesn’t even know who Ryan is or even how many stations Post-Newsweek owns. “I had no idea that the company had taken that position. I don’t keep up on that crap,” says Shales. “In fact, I got the distinct impression that the folks in the upper echelons (at the Post) were none too happy about what I wrote.”