NAB: Newspaper-TV Ban ‘Absurd,’ ‘Outdated’
Citing research documenting the demise of newspapers and the proliferation of digital media, the NAB told the FCC today that maintaining the ban against owning newspapers and TV stations in the same market “borders on the absurd.”
The ban is “no longer needed to promote viewpoint diversity in today’s online world,” the trade group said.
The FCC imposed the ban prospectively in 1975 to insure diversity in local news and viewpoints, and, despite pressure and court challenges from the newspaper and broadcasting industries over the years, it has maintained it ever since.
Having reviewed the ban and other ownership restrictions under a Congressional mandate, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler two weeks ago once again proposed to retain it. The proposal apparently has the support of two other FCC Democrats, enough to adopt the recommendation.
“This concept is now outdated, and the very notion of a rule hinging on a newspaper being printed and circulated shows its age and inherent arbitrariness,” the NAB said.
“Especially in light of the transformation of the media marketplace and vast changes in how consumers obtain news and information since 1975, the commission cannot show that either the printed newspaper rule…remains ‘necessary in the public interest,’ it said.
“Beyond failing to promote the public interest, retaining outdated cross-ownership rules affirmatively harms the public’s interest in local news production, particularly given the dire condition of the newspaper industry.”