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FCC Eases Media Ownership Rules
Commission Chief Says Proposals Reflect New Market Realities

FCC Chairman Mike Powell
FCC Chairman Michael Powell presides over the June 2 FCC meeting.
Photo: Copyright 2003 Reuters Limited

Changes to FCC Rules

In a 3-2 decision along party lines, the five-member FCC panel voted to:

» Allow broadcast networks to own TV stations that reach 45 percent of the U.S. audience. The previous limit was 35 percent.

» Lift the ban that prevents a media company from owning both a newspaper and a TV or radio station in the same market, except in the smallest markets.

» Allow a company to own two TV stations in markets where there are at least five stations total -- as long as one of the two stations is not in the top four in ratings. A company can now own three TV stations in markets of 18 stations or more.

» Allow a company to own a daily newspaper, one TV station and several radio stations, if the market has at least nine TV stations. Strict limits on cross-ownership remain for markets with four to eight TV stations.

» Maintain a ban on mergers among the four biggest TV networks -- ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox. Companies will be prevented from owning all the radio stations in a single market, and are still limited to owning up to eight radio stations in a market that has 45 radio stations or less.

Source: NPR News staff and wire reports

Web audio extras

Listen Professor Howard Shelanski, who teaches communications law at the University of California at Berkeley, tells NPR's Rick Karr that in the earliest days of radio, broadcasters actually asked for government regulation because earlier laissez faire rules made for a cutthroat media market.

Listen FCC Chairman Michael Powell says the fact that only five or six corporations dominate U.S. media doesn't worry him. In fact, Powell says, that represents more competition than exists in many other areas of industry and commerce.

Follow NPR News coverage on Monday's Federal Communications Commission decision:

Listen Lawmakers Criticize FCC Move on Media Ownership
The Federal Communications Commission's decision to relax media ownership rules draws swift reaction from opponents on Capitol Hill. Democratic and Republican opponents vow to push for a bipartisan effort to overturn the measure, which allows a single company to acquire a greater share of the media market. Hear NPR's David Welna.
Heard Monday, June 2, 2003 on All Things Considered.

Listen Analysis of FCC Vote
All Things Considered host Robert Siegel talks with Tom Wolzien, an analyst for the investment firm Sanford-Bernstein, about the FCC's decision to ease media ownership rules.
Heard Monday, June 2, 2003 on All Things Considered.

Listen FCC Eases Media Ownership Rules
The Federal Communications Commission votes 3 to 2 to relax limits on media ownership. In large markets, a single company will now be allowed to own both a broadcast station and a newspaper in the same city. NPR's Rick Karr reports.
Heard Monday, June 2, 2003 on All Things Considered.

Listen Connecticut, the Tribune Co. and Deregulation
Among the many proposed rules changes the FCC will consider Monday is one that would allow a company to buy a newspaper and television station in the same market. One place where the vote will be watched closely is Connecticut, where the media landscape has become increasingly dominated by a single out-of-state media giant, the Tribune company of Chicago. Critics say lifting the FCC regulations will only strengthen the company's position. NPR's Jim Zarroli reports.
Heard Sunday, June 1, 2003 on All Things Considered.

Listen Deregulating the Broadcast Industry -- Part III
In the last of a three-part series, NPR's Rick Karr gives a preview of the upcoming FCC. Opponents of the rules changes before the FCC say it would allow a handful of companies to consolidate control over the U.S. media. But supporters say the economics of television have changed, and current rules actually threaten the financial viability of the broadcast networks.
Heard Friday, May 30, 2003 on All Things Considered.

Listen Interview with FCC Chairman Michael Powell
NPR's Renee Montagne talks with Federal Communications Chairman Michael Powell about Monday's vote on ownership expansion. The FCC will decide whether to relax limits on the number of media outlets companies can control.
Heard Friday, May 30, 2003 on Morning Edition.

Listen FCC and New Broadcast Rules
The FCC is expected next week to relax regulations that limit the number of radio stations any one owner may have. The Tavis Smiley Show guest host Tony Cox talks with National Association of Hispanic Journalists President Juan Gonzalez and Jim Winston, executive director and general counsel of the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters, about the impact the ruling may have on minority stations.
Heard Thursday, May 29, 2003 on The Tavis Smiley Show.

Listen Deregulating the Broadcast Industry -- Part II
In the second of a three-part series, NPR's Laura Sydell reports on how changes in FCC regulations might impact the communities that broadcasters are serving.
Heard Thursday, May 29, 2003 on Morning Edition.

Listen Deregulating the Broadcast Industry -- Part I
In the first piece of a three-part series, NPR's Rick Karr reports on the FCC's possible deregulation and how it might affect public interest programming.
Heard Wednesday, May 28, 2003 on Morning Edition.

In Depth

click for more Browse more NPR News coverage of the FCC

Other Resources

click for more Federal Communications Commission Web site

click for more Listen to the FCC debate the rules changes
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