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NAB Urges FCC (Again) to Drop Cross-Ownership Ban

NAB Urges FCC (Again) to Drop Cross-Ownership Ban

With expected Senate confirmation of a fifth FCC commissioner, the NAB and others think the agency will be able to begin its next review of broadcast ownership rules.
The new leader of NAB David Rehr has emphasized to Chairman Kevin Martin this week that the trade group is opposed to the ban that prevents a single owner from holding both a newspaper and a broadcast outlet in the same market; NAB wants the ban lifted.
The cross-ownership restriction is anachronistic in an age when pressures on local station finances will only continue and new forms of competition develop, NAB argues, pointing to programming content via the Internet, mobile phones and iPods.
“NAB believes that the commission correctly concluded in its last ownership review that the complete prohibition on newspaper/broadcast combinations was no longer justified,” the new NAB president stated in a letter to the FCC chairman.
“The crossownership prohibition has inhibited the development of new innovative media services, especially digital and online services that have features of both the electronic and print media. The ban also precluded struggling newspaper and broadcast entities, including those in medium and small markets, from joining together to improve, or at least maintain, existing local news operations.”
NAB also believes the cross-ownership restriction is not applied evenly, saying, for example, that the rule prohibits the owner of a radio station from having an attributable interest in a daily newspaper in the same market, while a cable system operator faces no restriction in acquiring a daily newspaper in the same market.
The FCC had decided to repeal the law but that action never took effect; it was stayed by an appeals court that overturned new numerical cross-ownership limits in 2004.