Thursday, June 22, 2006

Media Ownership in the FCC sights

Yesterday the FCC launched a review into the ownership regulations for media, specifically the ban on cross-ownership of print and television media in the same market. (That is, currently the FCC does not allow a company to own both a television station and a newspaper in the same market.) The Republicans on the commission are seen to be in favor of lifting these restrictions, and chairman Kevin Martin has stated that this is a priority of his. The two Democrats on the commission, on the other hand, are opposed to it. From the wire report:
"Even under the old rules, consolidation grows, localism suffers and diversity dwindles," said FCC Commissioner Michael Copps, a Democrat. "If we make the wrong decision, our communities will suffer and our country will suffer."
Note that these concerns are very similar to the concerns/findings in the Oberholzer-Gee/Waldfogel paper I discussed in my last post.

I'm not sure where I stand; there's clearly going to be some efficiencies gained by cross-ownserhip, but at the same time, you're stiffling competition and promoting broad-ranging media conglomorates. And as Oberholzer-Gee and Waldfogel have shown, local ownership can have valuable social effects. I'm not sure how these trade off against each other, and I don't think anyone has taken a look at the whole picture and gotten precise estimates of what the actual trade-offs are.


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