FCC Chairman Kevin Martin won his vote but otherwise couldn’t seem to catch a break this week.
He successfully pushed his colleagues to allow single entities to own both a daily newspaper and either a TV or radio station in a given market; this applies in the nation’s top 20 Nielsen Designated Market Areas and is subject to certain conditions.
The move, which Martin has said is meant to help struggling newspapers, was controversial.
During its nearly day-long meeting on Tuesday, Martin and GOP colleagues Deborah Tate and Robert McDowell said it was time to eliminate the ban, calling it archaic in an age of a 24/7 news media cycle.
The FCC is charged by Congress to review media ownership rules periodically and purge or change those that no longer serve the public interest. They characterize the change as modest.
Their Democratic colleagues, Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein, said the criteria put in place to make sure such combos would only be allowed in the top markets are weak and the result would be consolidation in more than the top markets.
Advocacy group the Media Access Project threatened court action. Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D, part of a bi-partisan group of 25 senators, denounced the vote as arrogant and said the senators would go ahead with legislation to revoke the rule and nullify it.
House Commerce Committee Chairman, Rep. Dingell, D-Mich., called the vote “brazen” and said, “The FCC is a creature of Congress, and these matters will be the subject of rigorous oversight” by his committee.