By: Todd Shields

Cross-Ownership Rule Likely To Come Up

Another commissioner is stepping down at the Federal
Communications Commission, which is to decide whether to retain
an important restriction on newspapers’ business opportunities.
Harold W. Furchtgott-Roth, a Republican known for anti-regulatory
zeal, said Wednesday that he would not seek reappointment.

His term on the commission ended last year. Furchtgott-Roth said
that to ensure a smooth transition, he would serve until a
departure date can be agreed with the administration of President
George W. Bush.

By law the party in control of the White House holds a three-
member majority on the five-member panel. In addition to
Furchtgott-Roth’s seat, two Democratic seats are open or will
soon be so.

The change to Republican control is expected to increase chances
the panel will repeal or weaken the so-called cross-ownership ban
– the 1975 rule that prohibits joint ownership of newspapers
and broadcast stations in the same market. Newspaper stock prices
and profits could rise if they are allowed to buy local
television and radio stations, or if broadcasters begin bidding
for newspapers.

The FCC currently has four commissioners split evenly between
Democrats and Republicans. Democrat William F. Kennard resigned
as chairman last month. Commissioner Susan Ness, a Democrat,
received a temporary recess appointment from Clinton after her
first term expired. She is to step down after a replacement is
named, or at the end of the year.

Holdovers on the commission include Michael Powell, a Republican
whom Bush named FCC chairman, and Democrat Gloria Tristani, whose
term ends in 2003.

Todd Shields ( is the Washington editor for E&P.

Copyright 2001, Editor & Publisher.

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