Tribune might get waiver extension, and definitely gets a protest on its doorstep

Posted by Mitchell - November 29, 2007 (entry 582)

We've been talking at length about the FCC's push to seriously repeal the cross-ownership rule, which if successful would wreak certain havoc on the national media landscape (which isn't exactly paradise at the present moment).

But the Tribune Company -- arguably the leading advocate for, and biggest beneficiary of, the proposed rewrite -- has been pushing to get a temporary extension of the waivers for its current duopolies, which would be potentially illegal (there's even a pending and longstanding petition-to-deny against it) and which would rather change the law rather than obey it.

And the FCC, bribed by Tribune lobbyists swayed by the Tribune's sound and compelling arguments (cough), has been more than accomodating. In fact, word has just dropped that the FCC is proposing a two-year waiver extension to the Tribune.

There's been some concern among the corporate-hack crowd that proposing a temporary waiver would only add fuel to the opposition fire, and even the Tribune noted that Kevin Martin "is afraid new waivers would give ammunition to his opponents."

So, they're pushing, and it's time to push back. In addition to forthcoming efforts in Congress, and in other spheres, we at CMA have been organizing an action -- right on the Tribune's doorstep -- which we now announce.

It's a reprisal of our Christmas-time action in 2003 when Michael Powell came to Chicago and stared down activists outside the Chicago Sheraton. Only this time, it's Kevin Martin and the Tribune company.

Details are here. A PDF flyer is available for download here. Come one, come all.

UPDATE: Thanks to Ted Cox at the Chicago Daily Herald who mentioned our action in today's column.

UPDATE 2: The FCC announced today that it is granting the necessary waivers to the Tribune. What sucks more is that the waiver indefinitely grants Tribune a cross-ownership duopoly in Chicago. Gloria in excelsis deo!

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