Newspapers Appeal FCC Ownership Decision

The News Media Alliance says the commission’s decision to retain its broadcast-newspaper ownership ban “makes no sense at all.” 

Today, the News Media Alliance (formerly the Newspaper Association of America) filed an appeal of the FCC’s decision to keep in place media ownership rules that prevent a television or radio station from being co-owned with a newspaper in the same market.

“After 41 years of abiding by a rule that has long outlived its purpose, we have been forced to fight the FCC’s decision in court,” said David Chavern, president-CEO of the News Media Alliance. “Our industry provides long-term investigative journalism and local news and public affairs coverage that is intensely important to local communities. It makes no sense at all to prevent newspapers from helping to fund this essential activity by receiving capital and collaboration by an aligned industry such as broadcasting.”

The FCC is required by law to justify the ban every four years and, earlier this year, it determined that the ban was still necessary, despite the increased power of Internet-based competitors and other media voices in communities. NMA filing said: “The commission made a rushed determination without any reliable evidence, and made its decision in a highly politicized and questionable process. It concluded that, despite the colossal transformation of the way we receive news and information, preventing a newspaper and a radio station from being co-owned would somehow preserve newspapers — and localism, diversity, and competition — instead of hurt them. This conclusion contradicts previous commissions’ findings, court findings and its own findings that are a matter of record.”

“This rule,” Chavern continued, “prevents our industry from achieving the necessary scale to compete in media marketplace, while investment will continue to flow to internet distribution platforms that compete with news publishers for advertising revenue. The result will be fewer resources for local news and investigative reporting, the foundation of an open democracy. We are deeply disappointed and we will fight to overturn these rules once and for all.”

The case is News Media Alliance v. Federal Communications Commission, filed November 14, 2016, in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.  The group notes in its filing that it will not oppose a transfer of the appeal to the Third Circuit, which has heard prior appeals in this area.

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yin yu says:

November 15, 2016 at 9:16 am

It is ironic that the FCC will allow a foreign corporation to buy a broadcaster but won’t allow an American owned newspaper to “invest” in it’s community by using broadcast technology to deliver it’s content. Separated by an artificial wall, both print and electronic journalism have become zombie industries. It is time for the courts to tear down that wall and allow content creators to use the delivery methods they choose.