Restore FCC rule on conglomerates
The Senate has approved a resolution calling for reinstatement of a rule limiting corporate ownership of media in large cities.
A 33-year-old protection against a single media company dominating a local market was loosened in December by the Federal Communications Commission, but the Senate has properly called for its reinstatement. The House must act now to close the loophole and assure media competition.
The new FCC rules allow one company to own both a newspaper and a broadcast station in the same city in the nation's 20 largest metropolitan areas. A television station must not be among the top four in the market in order for a newspaper owner to purchase it. However, it includes exemption provisions that would allow media owners to combine newspapers and broadcast outlets in many smaller markets, such as Honolulu.
As chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, Sen. Daniel Inouye has been an important opponent of the rule. He and others warn that further consolidation of the media industry would reduce independent voices and make local coverage less competitive.
"As corporate ownership over our media grows more concentrated," Inouye said, "we see less and less of the diversity of our nation. When programming is the same from coast to coast, our airwaves will no longer reflect the rich mosaic of our country and our citizens."
The issue of media conglomeration in a single market was highlighted when Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., which owns the New York Post, the Wall Street Journal and Fox Broadcasting, sought to buy Newsday, the Long Island newspaper, from the Tribune Company. News Corp. recently withdrew the bid.
Gannett Co. owns numerous newspapers, including the Honolulu Advertiser, and television stations.
President Bush is expected to veto the congressional overturning of the FCC rule, but that should not deter Congress from taking the action.
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