- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 13, 2003

Federal regulators are considering an overhaul of media-ownership rules that could prompt a flurry of mergers and takeovers among companies that own newspapers and TV and radio stations.

The Federal Communications Commission will decide whether decades-old restrictions intended to promote diverse viewpoints in the media are still needed in a market changed by satellite broadcasts, cable TV and the Internet.

FCC staff were preparing a proposal for delivery yesterday to the five commissioners. The commissioners have until June 2, when a vote is scheduled, to consider the proposal’s recommended changes.

FCC Chairman Michael Powell and the two other Republican commissioners support easing regulations and allowing individual companies to hold a greater stake in local and national media markets.

In particular, the three Republicans support easing a restriction preventing a company from owning a newspaper and a radio or television station in the same city.

The Newspaper Association of America and media companies such as Tribune Co. and Gannett Inc. oppose that “cross-ownership” rule, saying it limits combinations that can improve the quality and quantity of news and local information.

Consumer groups said yesterday that local newspaper and broadcast markets already are highly concentrated.

They said more mergers will hurt competition and stifle diversity by leaving a few huge companies in control of what people see, hear and read.

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