More Reaction to Media-Ownership Smackdown

Federal Communications Commission chairman Kevin Martin has been criticized for paying too much attention to the health of newspapers in justifying the FCC's vote to loosen the newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership ban.

But one person who can't be faulted for arguing the print side of the case is Newspaper Association of America president John Sturm.

Sturm, responding to a Senate vote to repeal that decision, said Friday that it was "incomprehensible" that the Senate would vote to reimpose a 33-year-old ban on newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership "as if the largest explosion of media choice in the history of the world had never happened." He called it a ban "that fits the eight-track era, but not the iPod world we live in."

Praising the decision Friday was Free Press, which has been behind a grassroots effort to thwart the FCC vote via its Web site, which, the group said, generated calls and more than 250,000 letters to senators asking them to vote for the resolution.

"This is simply astounding," executive director Josh Silver wrote in an e-mail to supporters. "President Bush has promised that he will try to veto this bill. But tonight the Senate and the American people have spoken with one voice. This historic vote sends a clear message that the only people who support more media consolidation are big-media lobbyists and the White House."

And this from Democratic Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein: "

“The Senate's complete rejection of the FCC's attempt to permit greater media concentration represents a great victory of the people over the powerful.  In light of the Senate's action, any proposed transaction seeking to exploit the new rules will likely face intense scrutiny.  

"The unanimous vote [actually several Senators made the point on the floor of saying they wanted to be on the record opposing it] reflects a strong consensus across the ideological spectrum against further media concentration, from left to right and virtually everybody in between."

" The FCC veered dangerously off-course from the American mainstream, so our elected representatives are trying to steer us back.  This unequivocal, bipartisan rebuke of the FCC is a wake-up call for us to serve the public rather than the media giants we oversee. "

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.