Today, the Newspaper Association of America, on behalf of its nearly 2,000 newspapers, submitted comments to the Federal Communication Commission that urges the repeal of the newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership ban that has been in effect since 1975. Congress requires the FCC to review these regulations every four years to determine whether the rules “are necessary in the public interest as the result of competition,” and to “repeal or modify any regulation it determines to be no longer in the public interest.” 

In its comments, the NAA stated that the low barrier of entry on the Internet has “created more opportunities for individuals to express their opinions and gather news and information through digital-only news sites, social media and blogs.” The comments cited recent Pew research that indicates that nearly 75 percent of U.S. adults regularly visit a social media network, often for news and information.

“Yet the Commission continues to regulate the cross-ownership of newspapers and broadcasters (and only newspapers and broadcasters) because these emerging independent websites ‘often contain local news content that originates from’ newspapers and television stations,” read the NAA comments. “In other words, because competitors routinely pilfer the content of newspapers and broadcasters, the Commission will continue to impose the cross-ownership restrictions exclusively on newspapers and broadcasters.”

This reasoning goes against the stated goal of encouraging original reporting, which starts the conversation that is continued online. The FCC must recognize that the public conversation is at risk if newspapers are not able to attract investment and resources in an ever-challenging climate.

NAA also provided examples from seven markets (Phoenix, Dayton, South Bend, Milwaukee, Cedar Rapids, Atlanta and Spokane) where cross-owned properties, which have been grandfathered or operate under a waiver, produce compelling journalism that benefits the public. 

“Commonly owned newspapers and broadcasters focus on their respective strengths and produce local journalism that is more in-depth than it would have been if they were separately owned,” read the NAA comments. “There is no rational explanation for continuing this rule.” To read the complete NAA comments to the FCC, please click here.

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