Newspaper / Media cross ownership rules

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.

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2 Responses to Newspaper / Media cross ownership rules

  1. CC1s121LrBGT says:

    The broadcast versus print division both meaningless and arbitrary.

    The real division is between those that get the scoops first and in more detail versus those that provide analysis. In the domestic media, these are one and the same because a favorable editorial is required to grant and keep inside access to the news first and in more detail than your competitors.

    That is the main reason that I prefer the foreign press. They know they will never get the scoop on US news first and they don’t try. Instead, they try to present more sophisticated analysis. Many of them also take pride in pointing out our shortcomings – both perceived and real. Becoming aware of a shortcoming is the first step in addressing it.

    • Art Stone says:

      One of the wrinkles in the history of this was the Associated Press. The AP is basically a news sharing service operated by newspapers. Newspapers view most radio and TV as parasites, using their reporting and then trying to undercut newspaper revenue. Those “call in trading shows” on full service AM radio are less about attracting an audience than undercutting classified ads [before Craigslist of course]

      The electronic media claimed they had a right to subscribe to AP and then use the AP news on the radio and TV. If you owned both an AP affiliated paper and an AM station, it would be hard to argue that Cox Media could not use AP news stories – especially one submitted to AP by the AJC.

      Here is an account with lots more details about his era, and has lots of connections to the current day events over things like “net equality”.

      If the government has any role in this at all, it belongs in the Commerce Department or Department of Justice, not in the hands of the “old media” protection agency

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