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Reaction Mixed to MMTC Cross-Ownership Study

Free Press says survey conflicts with others while NAB says modest reform is warranted

Reactions differ on the BIA-produced report on media ownership diversity.

The gist of the report, conducted for the Minority Media Telecommunications Council, is that any fallout from a slight relaxation of the FCC’s cross-ownership rules will be small and doesn’t justify tightening or retaining the rules.

Fourteen broadcasters, a mix of station GMs who work for minority and nonminority owners, took part in the survey. The point was to see whether eliminating the rule that prevents one owner from owing a daily newspaper and broadcast stations in the same market would negatively affect minority station ownership.

Broadcasters see the rules as archaic. NAB Spokesman Dennis Wharton tells RW its membership believes “modest reform of media ownership rules — many of which stem from the 1970s — are warranted. As the events of Superstorm Sandy, the Boston Marathon bombing and the Oklahoma tornadoes have proven, local broadcasting still matters as an indispensable lifeline medium.”

Further, “It’s time to adopt ownership rules that allow radio and TV stations to remain competitive with national pay media providers,” according to Wharton.

However advocacy group Free Press likened what the FCC has proposed to “gutting” the cross-ownership rules and Policy Director Matt Wood says the survey amounts to an opinion survey of existing media owners. The study, he says, conflicts with other studies that show consolidation limits opportunities for diversity on the airwaves.