Cross-ownership hopes revived p.9

By: Joe Strupp A Republican-backed bill that would lift the ban on cross-ownership of same-market newspapers and television stations is being considered in Congress for the third time in four years. But even its supporters admit it has a tough road ahead with likely opposition from liberal Democrats and the White House.
"It's no slam-dunk," says Ken Johnson, a spokesman for Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-La.), who chairs the House Telecommunications subcommittee and plans hearings on the bill this spring. "Anytime you tweak ownership rules, you hear cries of consolidated power in the hands of a few."
Veteran Capitol Hill observers agree, saying the time may not be ripe for such a sweeping change.
"It's unlikely that much will pass this year on telecommunications because the 1996 [Telecommunications] Act hasn't had that much time to work," says Brody Mullins of Congress Daily, who covers telecommunications issues. "There is also a slimmer margin for the Republican majority so that anything that passes has to have wide support."
Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) introduced the bill on March 2, which seeks to lift the 24-year ban on cross-ownership of television stations and newspapers in the same market. Such dual ownerships have been prohibited under FCC regulations that took effect in 1975.
Since the FCC ban, only cross-ownerships that were in place prior to 1975 have been allowed to remain.
"As we approach the dawn of a new century, it is time to reform the antiquated rules and regulations of the FCC," Stearns said as he introduced the legislation. "This agency appears to be consumed with a regulatory model of government rather than the trimmed-down, free-market approach that the American people would like."
A White House spokesperson says the Clinton administration is still studying the bill but would likely oppose any effort to allow "a concentration within the media."
Stearns' bill also lifts the ban on ownership of more than one television network or more than one television station in the same market. It also raises the nationwide audience cap from 35% to 45% for television station owners.
?(Rep. Cliff Stearns) [Photo]
?(Editor & Publisher Web Site: http:www.mediainfo. com) [Caption]
?(Copyright: Editor & Publisher March 6, 1999) [Caption]


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here

Scroll the Latest Job Opportunities From The Media Job Board