FCC's Copps: Dow Jones Deal No Regulatory 'Slam-Dunk'

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By: E&P Staff In a strongly worded statement released Wednesday, Michael Copps, a Democrat on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), warned that Rupert Murdoch's deal to buy Dow Jones & Co. won't coast through the regulatory agency.

"It's interesting to hear the 'experts' claim the transaction faces no regulatory hurdles," he said. "Not so fast! This deal means more media consolidation and fewer independent voices, and it specifically impacts the local market in New York City."

News Corp.'s Fox unit operates a broadcast television station in New York City. With the purchase of Dow Jones, Murdoch will own The Wall Street Journal, which is headquartered in New York. FCC cross-ownership regulations prohibit the common ownership of a broadcast station and a daily newspaper in the same market, but the belief of many observers is that the Journal, as a national paper with a financial rather than general interest orientation, would be exempt from the regulation.

Copps has been an outspoken opponent of attempts by FCC Chairman Kevin Martin and the Republican majority of commissioners to eliminate the cross-ownership ban.

Hes said the FCC "should immediately conduct a careful factual and legal analysis of the transaction to determine how it implicates specific FCC rules and our overarching statutory obligation to protect the public interest."

A good deal for shareholders, he added, is not necessarily in the public interest.

"I hope nobody views this as a slam-dunk," he added.

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