By: Todd Shields

White House Move Could Speed Cross-Ownership Review

The White House on Friday announced nominations to fill the three
open seats on the Federal Communications Commission, a move that
may help speed the agency’s review of a ban on cross-ownership of
newspapers and broadcast stations.

Those named included Kathleen Abernathy, a telecommunications
lawyer; and Kevin Martin, a former aide to FCC Commissioner
Harold Furchtgott-Roth. They will join FCC Chairman Michael
Powell in a three-seat Republican majority on the agency.

Michael Copps, a former staffer to Sen. Ernest F. Hollings (D-
S.C.) is to join Commissioner Gloria Tristani in the Democratic

Each nominee faces confirmation by the Senate. Furchtgott-Roth is
stepping down from the agency and Democrat Susan Ness has stayed
on through a temporary appointment that expires when a
replacement is seated. The other vacancy was created when
outgoing Democratic Chairman William Kennard resigned as
Republican President George W. Bush took office.

The FCC in May is to begin considering whether to modify or
repeal its 26-year-old ban on common ownership of newspapers and
broadcast stations in the same market. Friday’s appointments
suggest the review need not be delayed while a full commission is

Publishers back the elimination of the ban, and stock analysts
say its removal could boost newspaper stocks. Others say the ban
is needed to prevent any single voice from being able to dominate
public discourse in a locality.

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

Copyright 2001, Editor & Publisher.

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