The Endgame Begins: Martin Announces Cross-Ownership Scrapping

Posted by Mitchell - November 17, 2007 (entry 579)

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.

DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed on this website are those of the individual members of Chicago Media Action who authored them, and not necessarily those of the entire membership of Chicago Media Action, nor of Chicago Media Action as an organization.

FAIR USE NOTICE: This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.