This week, FCC chair Kevin Martin announced (in both an FCC press release and in an op-ed in the New York Times) his detailed rewrite of the media ownership rules docket. On the surface, the rewrite looks to be more curtailed from previous attempts which were more expansive. Indeed, "just" one rule is modified, but it's a big one: the cross-ownership rule which forbids a company from owning a newspaper and TV station in the same cities -- even though the Tribune Company has had five such intra-city newspaper/TV duopolies for years now, but never mind.
The rewrite isn't a straight-out repeal of the rule, but would permit cross-ownership in the "20 largest markets" -- by a happy coincidence the Tribune has cross-ownership duopolies in three of the largest markets, but never mind.
What's worse is that there's a loophole in this rule: a low threshold for justifying cross-ownership, which could lead to a wave of consolidation, which astonishingly dovetails with the Tribune's longer-term growth strategy, but never mind.
Harold Feld blogs about this matter in greater detail, that Kevin Martin is taking a much more nuanced approach than his predecessor who had the subtlety of a jackhammer. And that, once again, we're behind the eight-ball on this.
So what else is new? We were behind the eightball on a bunch of past campaigns. But predictions don't mean squat. To quote one activist when asked about predictions in other activist endeavors: "Never mind predictions, that's the kind of thing you do something about, not make predictions about. The predictions are idle. The actions that can be taken are very real."
And true to our name, CMA has been organizing actions that can -- and have -- made that difference. Actions on this count are in the works as well. Watch this website for more details to come.
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