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Thursday, June 01, 2006

FCC plans relaxation of media ownership rules, watchdogs say

Move to allow more consolidation could come as soon as June 15
 
The Federal Communications Commission is poised to propose new media ownership rules that will allow media companies to own newspapers, television and radio stations in the same city, according to media watchdog groups.
 
The proposed rule would dissolve a longstanding policy that prohibited corporations from owning a television station and a daily newspaper in the same market. The "cross ownership" rule, promulgated in 1975, was enacted to ensure media diversity.
 
Individuals close to the Commission say the FCC will propose relaxing media ownership rules, possibly as soon as June 15 when the Commission next meets, the media watchdog Free Press says.
 
"All indications are that the next time the FCC meets – now that they have a full commission – we expect to see media ownership come up, and we think it will be the cross ownership rule as well as rules on how many TV stations companies can own in a single market," Free Press spokesman Craig Aaron said.
 
A third Republican joined the FCC after Senate confirmation Friday. The Commission was deadlocked 2-2 along party lines in recent months and the new commissioner gives Republicans a 3-2 majority. FCC commissioners and the Commission's media office did not respond to repeated requests for comment.
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