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FCC Weighs Changing Media ‘Cross-ownership’ Rules

The FCC will vote Tuesday on whether media companies should be permitted to own both a newspaper and broadcast station in the same market. Jeffrey Brown reports on the pending "cross-ownership" proposal, and then media experts discuss its potential impact.

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  • GWEN IFILL:

    And now, a look at the importance of who owns local news companies. Jeffrey Brown has our Media Unit report.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    How many media outlets should one company be allowed to own in a given city? That's a question the Federal Communications Commission is taking up tomorrow when it votes on a controversial plan to ease 32-year-old restrictions on a company's right to own both a newspaper and a TV station in the same market.

    The plan was put forward by FCC Chairman Kevin Martin.

  • KEVIN MARTIN, FCC Chairman:

    I believe the revised rules would balance the need to support the availability and sustainability of local news, while not significantly increasing local concentration or harming diversity.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    Martin's proposal would allow newspapers to purchase a TV station in the nation's 20 largest markets under certain conditions. Among other things, the newspaper and TV outlet would be required to commit to maintaining editorial independence.

    But consumer groups and others, including several FCC commissioners, contend that easing the rules would give too much power to too few companies, allowing fewer voices to be heard.

  • MICHAEL COPPS, FCC Commissioner:

    The FCC is lurching dangerously off course.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    Frustration over the measure was on display at a recent congressional hearing.

    REP. MIKE DOYLE (D), Pennsylvania: Are you aware that the Association of Free Community Papers opposes lifting the cross-ownership rule?

  • KEVIN MARTIN:

    Yes.

  • REP. MIKE DOYLE:

    Are you aware that the Independent Free Papers Association opposes lifting the cross-ownership rule?

  • KEVIN MARTIN:

    No, I haven't heard that.

  • REP. MIKE DOYLE:

    They are. Are you aware that the Community Papers of Michigan opposes lifting the cross-ownership rule?

  • KEVIN MARTIN:

    No.

  • REP. MIKE DOYLE:

    How about the Free Community Papers of New York?

  • KEVIN MARTIN:

    I knew the Free Community Papers Association was.

  • REP. MIKE DOYLE:

    The Free Community Papers of New England?

  • KEVIN MARTIN:

    No.

  • REP. MIKE DOYLE:

    The Texas Community Newspapers Association?

  • KEVIN MARTIN:

    No.

  • REP. MIKE DOYLE:

    The Wisconsin Community Papers Association?

  • KEVIN MARTIN:

    No.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    In spite of such concerns, the measure is expected to pass tomorrow, with the three Republican commissioners supporting Martin's proposal and the two Democrats opposed.

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