Media General: Lift cross-ownership limits separately

Worried that the Federal Communications Commission might get bogged down,
Richmond, Va.-based Media General Inc. is asking the commission to lift restrictions on
newspaper/broadcast cross-ownership separately if a broad review of all
media-ownership rules can't be complete by agency chairman Michael Powell's
spring target date.

"Unlike the case with some other media-ownership rules, the public-interest
benefits of repeal of the newspaper/broadcast cross-ownership rule are so clear
and inescapable that its prompt elimination is required" by the deregulatory
1996 Telecommunications Act, Media General said in a recent FCC filing.

Powell promised to bring the ownership proceeding to a vote June 2, and his strong
endorsement for relaxing the ban on ownership of local broadcast stations by
newspapers should encourage the company.

But Powell may not find it easy to craft a three-vote majority to move the
omnibus changes -- which also would include alterations to the 35 percent TV-household reach cap, radio-market measurement, local TV-ownership caps and
local radio/TV cross-ownership.

Repeal of the local newspaper restriction, however, would likely get three
GOP votes if moved on its own.

Media General owns and operates newspaper/TV combos in six markets in the
Southeast and plans to pair more outlets among its 22 daily newspapers and 26 TV
stations if current limits are eliminated.