Media Alliance to Trump: Dump Cross-Ownership Rules

The News Media Alliance, whose board members include execs from Gannett, Belo, Cox, The Washington Post, The New York Times and about 2,000 other newspapers/media outlets, has called on President-elect Donald Trump 's transition team to prioritize getting rid of media cross-ownership rules.

In fact, that was the first on a list of things it advised would help foster economic growth and investment. Others included not withholding media credentials from outlets based on the content of their coverage — something candidate Trump did. They also put in a pitch for regular briefings — it has been months since Trump had a press conference, according to CNN — and maintaining a press pool — President-elect Trump early on made some moves without informing the press of his whereabouts. "News can strike at any time and without a pool on site to inform the public about the President’s whereabouts, speculation and fear can prevail," they said.

"The 1975 ban on media cross ownership is grossly out of date," alliance members said in a white paper sent to the transition team Nov. 30. "Rules adopted in the Nixon Administration prohibit companies that already own TV stations in a given market from investing in newspaper companies that serve the same market. Even if these rules made sense 40 years ago, when each market had one newspaper and three TV stations — and cable and the internet did not exist — they do not make sense today. Amid the surge of online media that have become prevalent in the 21st century, the rules banning cross-media ownership no longer reflects the reality of today’s media landscape and they unnecessarily restrain investment."

“While news organizations are innovating and adapting to a vastly different media landscape, antiquated government regulations and imbalanced policies are unnecessarily hindering investment and growth at news media companies," said David Chavern, News Media Alliance president and CEO. "We encourage the new Administration to revisit these regulations and policies as it charts a new course for our nation’s economic growth.”

Trump is no fan of the news media — particularly the Times of late — so he may need some persuading to prioritize its growth and health.

Also on the alliance's list of recommendations to the Trump Administration was 1) Broadening the Department of Justice's definition of media markets to include broadcasting and cable and the internet as relevant competitors to newspapers and 2) Getting a tax deduction for digital distribution.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.