Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Kevin Martin announced on Tuesday, changes to the agency's media-ownership rules which previously prohibited multiple media-ownership by a company.
The 32-year-old cross-ownership rule meant that a company could not own a newspaper and television or radio station in the same city. In a conference call, Martin said the rule will be relaxed as consumers now more ways to get news and information than they did three decades ago, when newspapers, television and radio were unrivaled sources of local information.
Permitting cross ownership can preserve the vitality of newspapers by allowing them to share their operational costs across multiple media platforms, Mr. Martin said in a statement released shortly before the conference call.
Martin's proposal must be voted on by the five-member commission. If approved, cross-ownership would be allowed in the following circumstances:
1. The media would have to be in one of the 20 largest U.S. media markets.( New York is No. 1; Sacramento is No. 20.)
2. A company that owns a newspaper is not allowed to own either a television station or radio station in that market, but not both.
3. A newspaper cannot buy one of the top four rated television stations in a city.
4. If a newspaper wants to buy a television station, there has to be at least 8 other independently owned newspapers or television stations in the city after the merger.
According to an FCC statement, the Chairman will not relax any more rules in the radio or television broadcast markets. He therefore proposes to make no changes to the local television duopoly rule, the local radio ownership rule, and the local radio-television cross ownership rule currently in force.