FCC Relaxes Media Ownership Rules… Again

mojo-photo-fcc.gifFirst of all, has anyone ever noticed that it looks like the eagle is getting electrocuted on the FCC’s official seal over there? Ker-ZAPP, take that, freedom! Anyway, earlier today in a party-line 3-2 vote, the good old Commission overturned a 32-year-old ban that forbade broadcasters in the 20 largest media markets from also owning a newspaper. Do you get the sense that everybody in the Bush administration is just kind of “shooting the moon” at this point? Like, “screw it, let’s just do all the evil crap we want, who cares?” Both Republican and Democratic members of congress had asked FCC chairman Kevin Martin not to proceed with the decision, but the White House was gunnin’ for it. Yee-haw. [Edit: Hey, turns out MoJo‘s totally on top of this beat, check out this article, “Breaking the News,” for some background.]

The new rules are themselves a bit complicated, requiring eight independent “voices” (i.e., media companies) in a top 20 market before a newspaper-TV broadcaster combination would be allowed, and the TV station involved must not be one of the top four in the market. In markets smaller than the top 20, a TV partner of such a deal must add seven hours of local news unless the newspaper or station is in “financial distress.” With FCC chairmen tending to spend all their time getting their picture taken with celebrities, one wonders where they’ll find the time to keep track of all that stuff. But hey, now it’s theoretically possible for the San Francisco Chronicle and KRON-TV to be reunited! Lord knows they’ve both got to qualify for “financial distress.”