The National Association of Broadcaaters (NAB) predates the FCC created in 1936. At the time, the only “communications” that “needed” regulation were AM radio and radio telegraphs. The ITU needed to standardize spectrum usage worldwide and the FCC was to be the United States representative at those negotiations.
The FCC has no power to “abridge freedom of speech” of newspapers – but that hasn’t stopped the FCC from keeping Newspapers out of the TV and Radio business to protect the economic interests of the establishment electronic media owners (like NBC back in the good old days)
Here are the rules. If you can actually understand what they say, you have a very peculiar mind.
The essence is that outside of the top 20 markets, the local daily newspaper cannot own a TV or radio station, and in the top 20 markes only under certain rules. Of course, all rule$ have a provi$ion for waiving the rule$ if the FCC deem$ it to be in “the public intere$t”
The rationale was that if one entity owned both the daily newspaper and Radio/TV, the evil robber Baron would have a captive audience. It’s surprising the FCC never outlawed baseball teams from owning radio stations.
In theory, running a daily newspaper doesn’t require a license – so a city can have any number of competing daily newspapers and market forces will sort out how many a city “needs”. With radio and TV, there are a finite number of frequencies, hence possibly a need for heavier government “regulation’.
If the FCC scrapped the rule or Congress forced them to, do you think that would improve things? As an example, WSB-AM in Atlanta is useful. They are owned by Cox Media that also publishes the Atlanta Journal Constitution. They are one of the highest rated AM stations in the country, probably in part due to their thorough coverage of local news and access to government leaders.