FCC’s Martin Warns Ownership Rules May Dampen Local News Quality

Apr 4, 2006  •  Post A Comment

A Federal Communications Commission rule that bars daily newspaper owners from buying radio or TV stations in their communities could be dampening the quality and amount of local news coverage, according to FCC Chairman Kevin Martin.

Mr. Martin’s comments, intended to chip away at the foundation of a regulation that he has long wanted to eliminate or relax, were part of a speech to the Newspaper Association of America in Chicago on Tuesday. “We must take into account the fact that newspaper-broadcast combinations may result in a significant increase in the production of local news and current affairs as well as an improvement in the quality of programming provided to their communities,” he said.

“As the commission revisits the issue, it is important that we examine the extent to which allowing cross-ownership may help to forestall the erosion in local news coverage by enabling companies to reduce duplicative costs and amortize their news products across multiple platforms,” he added.

In recent remarks to reporters, Mr. Martin has said he plans to launch proceedings to consider revising the newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership regulation and other agency rules limiting media ownership “as soon as we can.”