×

FCC: Rule changes would actually promote diversity

Amid criticism, agency says cross-ownership would strengthen newsgathering

The FCC is pushing back against criticism from public interest groups over the agency’s proposed changes to media ownership rules, which have been circulating for several weeks among commissioners for a vote.

Last week, Free Press blasted the proposed changes as “little more than a gift-wrapped giveaway to Rupert Murdoch,” a reference to the notion that the changes would allow Murdoch to purchase the Los Angeles Times or Chicago Tribune, located in two markets where News Corp. owns major TV stations.

An FCC official, however, said that while the proposed order would relax or eliminate rules on newspaper and TV cross-ownership, buyers in the top-20 markets would have to obtain a waiver, subject to a series of tests to determine if the combination still serves the public interest. For example, in those markets, there still would be restrictions on owning one of the top-four TV stations in a market as well as a newspaper. Also in place would be a so-called eight remaining voices test, a measurement of whether there are enough other major media entities in a market to represent a diversity of views.

Bill Lake, chief of the FCC’s Media Bureau, said in a statement that “reports that the order would make it easier to own a top TV station and a major newspaper in a market are wrong. In fact, the order would strengthen the current rule by creating an express presumption against a waiver of the cross-ownership ban to allow such a combination. In addition, the proposed order preserves the existing TV duopoly rule, which forbids ownership of more than one of the top-four TV stations in any one market.”

The changes also would eliminate prohibitions on newspaper-radio and TV-radio cross-ownership.

Last week, nine Democratic senators, including Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick Leahy, sent a letter to FCC chairman Julius Genachowski asking him not to proceed on the proposed rule changes until there could be further study on the impact on media ownership by women and minorities. They also cited concerns over localism.

The rationale behind the changes is that newspaper-TV station cross-ownership could strengthen newsgathering and boost local journalism, as papers struggle to find their footing in the digital age.

An FCC spokesman said that its draft order “includes a comprehensive analysis of viewpoint diversity based on an extensive record developed over the last three years, including six public hearings held across the country; two rounds of public comment; and 11 economic studies that were competitively bid, subject to peer review and publicly released.”

The spokesman said last month that the proposed changes continue to promote media diversity by “retaining some of the consolidation limits and through a number of measures that provide broadcast opportunities for small business.”

It’s still unclear when the commissioners will finalize a vote.

Popular on Variety

More TV

  • TV News Roundup: Netflix Drops Trailer

    TV News Roundup: Netflix Drops Trailer for Ryan Murphy's 'The Politician' (Watch)

    In today’s TV news roundup, Netflix has drops the first trailer for “The Politician,” and “Killing Eve” adds two to its cast for season 3.  CASTING Harriet Walter and Danny Sapani, both alums of “The Crown,” are set to join the cast of “Killing Eve” for its third season. British writer Suzanne Heathcote, whose past credits include [...]

  • Lady Gaga

    Variety Earns 14 Folio: Eddie & Ozzie Award Nominations

    Variety has received 14 Folio: Eddie & Ozzie award nominations for its coverage of the entertainment industry over the past year. The awards gala, which will take place at The Hilton Midtown in New York City on Oct. 30, celebrates publications that have demonstrated impressive investigative journalism, in addition to thoughtful digital and print design. [...]

  • Disneyland

    Disney Shares Slip Amid Reported Whistleblower Allegations of Inflated Revenue

    Sandra Kuba, a former senior financial analyst for Disney’s revenue operations unit, says she has filed a series of whistleblower tips with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, alleging that the entertainment conglomerate repeatedly and systematically overstated its revenue for years, according to a MarketWatch report, by as much as $6 billion in a single [...]

  • Bob Bakish Joe Ianniello

    ViacomCBS Sets Board Members; Bob Bakish, Joe Ianniello New Deals Disclosed

    ViacomCBS has unveiled the 13 members of its board of directors and details of new employment contracts for president-CEO Bob Bakish and CBS chairman-CEO Joe Ianniello. The disclosure came Monday in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, six days after Viacom and CBS at long last set an all-stock merger agreement valued at [...]

  • Carrie Underwood, left, and Reba McEntire

    CMAs Make Hosting Change: Brad Paisley Exits, Dolly Parton and Reba McEntire Are In

    The CMA Awards have had the most consistent hosting situation of any music awards show in television, but 11 years after installing Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood as the reliable faces of the telecast, even ABC and the Country Music Association have decided it’s time for a switch. Come Nov. 13, Underwood will return for [...]

  • Ava Max iHeartRadio Wango Tango, Portraits,

    Megan Thee Stallion, CNCO, Ava Max to Perform at VMAs Pre-show

    CNCO, Megan Thee Stallion and “Sweet but Psycho” singer Ava Max (pictured) have been added to the performer lineup at this year’s MTV Video Music Awards. The three will take the stage during the VMAs’ red carpet pre-show, hosted by Terrence J and Nessa. Zara Larsson will join the two hosts as a special correspondent. [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content