By: Mark Fitzgerald
Barack Obama’s nomination of Julius Genachowski to head the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) virtually ensures the continuation of the ban on media cross-ownership, The Seattle Times said Friday in an approving editorial.
The Times’ principal owner, Frank Blethen, is a rare newspaper publisher who supports the three-decade-old ban on same-market common ownership of newspapers and broadcast stations. He argues the measure is a barrier to harmful media ownership concentration, while nearly the entire newspaper establishment, led by the intense lobbying efforts of the Newspaper Association of America, has labored through four administrations to overturn the ban enacted in 1975.
Newspaper opponents came close to a complete overturn of the ban with the last eight years of a Republican majority on the FCC, chaired by an outspoken opponent, Kevin Martin. That repeal was itself overturned by the court, and the FCC last year voted in a limited loosening of restrictions in the biggest media markets.
“Genachowski is an improvement over Martin for several reasons,” the Times editorial said. “Martin did not believe the FCC should forbid the same company from owning a newspaper and a TV station in a local market; he thought cable, satellite and Internet technology had made the issue of monopoly moot, and that if media moguls bought up radio and TV properties like strings of collectible jewels, the people had nothing to worry about.
“Genachowski knows better. The media-ownership restrictions that almost fell under Martin will be in safer hands.”