Ownership rules come under review

The FCC has launched a review of its media ownership rules, a process that once again will cast attention on the strength of local stations and newspapers in the face of declining audiences and readership due to the Internet.

Mandated every four years, review comes as broadcasters have called for a relaxing of restrictions that limit the extent to which they can merge or team up with other stations or newspapers in the same market. Some lawmakers on Capitol Hill agree, arguing that it is a necessary step to saving news outlets in face of declining audiences and ad revenue.

“We live in an ever changing media world, but the core public interest goals are the same,” FCC chairman Julius Genachowski said in a statement.

The commission is asking for public input on a range of questions, including what impact the FCC’s proposed National Broadband Plan would have on the rules.

The divergent sentiments toward consolidation were on display with statements issued by two commissioners, Michael Copps and Robert McDowell.

Copps said that while they should go into the proceeding with an “open mind,” they can’t ignore the “harmful effects that media consolidation has had on the news, information and entertainment we receive.”

McDowell, however, argued that they “have a statutory obligation to eliminate unnecessary mandates and bring our regulations into line with the modern marketplace.”

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