FCC Lifts 'Cross-Ownership' Ban Despite Protests

The Federal Communications Commission on Tuesday agreed to overturn a 32-year-old ban and allow broadcasters in the country's top 20 media markets to own a TV or radio station and a newspaper in the same market.

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin says that when the so-called "cross-ownership" ban was passed, it made sense to try to protect consumers who received most of their news from newspapers and over-the-air TV and radio.

The FCC voted 3-2, along party lines. Before the vote, Democrats on the commission reiterated past criticism that easing the ownership rule will lead to more consolidation in the industry, eliminate independent voices and degrade local news coverage.

Martin pushed the vote through despite strong opposition on Capitol Hill and from organizations including Code Pink and the National Rifle Association. The vote came a day after a group of 25 senators, including Republicans as well as Democrats, sent a letter to Martin warning they would "move legislation to revoke the rule and nullify the vote" if the FCC went ahead with the ownership rule changes.

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