FCC Commissioner Kevin Martin says the agency needs to be mindful of unintended consequences from changing media ownership rules. He feels radio may be a good example. Some radio consolidation may actually be due to the commission's definition of a market rather than the numerical limits set by Congress, he told attendees of a Columbia Law School forum on media ownership last week.
"For instance, there are towns in Texas in which one company owns 7 of the 8 stations licensed to that town. But to be able to own seven stations in a market, Congress said there should be at least 30 other stations. Yet, the owner purchased the 7 stations in compliance with our rules because too often our rules treat small towns like big markets. The problem lies in the FCC's definition of a "market," and in an obscure counting method for determining how many stations in a market one entity owns. We have raised both these issues in the current proceeding, and we need to take this opportunity to address them."