NAA wants to end ownership restrictions

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The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission has circulated a draft order to change the long-standing rules on newspaper/broadcast cross-ownership.

According to the Newspaper Association of America, the non-public order reportedly would:

• Repeal the newspaper-radio cross-ownership ban entirely

• Permit television-newspaper cross-owner­ship in the top 20 markets as long as the co-owned television station is not one of the top-four rated stations and eight media “voices” remain after the combination.

While the Newspaper Association of America is disappointed that the order does not throw the ban out completely, the group is pleased that it proposes to repeal the ban on newspaper/radio combinations in the same market.

The association has met with all of the FCC commissioners during the past few weeks and strongly encouraged the agency to take the first step in liberalizing this rule by lifting the newspaper/radio cross-ownership restriction.

The association continues to push for full repeal of all of the ownership restrictions. In particular, the newspaper association continues to seek a more liberal waiver standard to provide greater flexibility for investments in newspapers by owners of television stations.

A vote on the draft order could come this month or in December.

Some interest groups continue to oppose any changes to media ownership rules.