Posted by: Jon Fine on October 4, 2006
This has long been threatened and never delivered, but the top guy at the FCC is, once again, talking about loosening certain media ownership regulations, which right now forbid companies from owning newspapers and TV stations in the same markets, among other things. FCC Chairman Kevin Martin starred in an article in today’s Wall Street Journal:
FCC Chairman Kevin Martin has made little secret of his desire to loosen the restrictions, particularly to dump cross-ownership limits barring media companies from owning newspapers and television stations in most markets. He argues they aren’t needed now because of the media diversity offered by the Internet and the explosion of cable and satellite television or radio programming.
“We need to develop a rule for cross-ownership that reflects current market characteristics, including the struggling nature of today’s newspaper industry,” Mr. Martin said. [Emphasis mine.] “We must also recognize … that some of our rules have not been updated for years and may no longer reflect the current marketplace.”
I am really far from being a kneejerk defender of cross-ownership rules, but today I thought: Man. It must be great to bet big on ill-conceived mergers, run your industry into the ground while resisting rethinking it, lose shareholders millions …
… and then get a bailed out by the FCC and the government just in the nick of time.