NAA Says Crossownership Rules Must Go

The Newspaper Association of America has told the FCC that nothing short of complete repeal of the newspaper/TV crossownership rule will suffice to satisfy the FCC's statutory responsibility to regulate in the public interest.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler scrapped his predecessor's plan to loosen the crossownership rules, and now won't even go that far until mid-year 2016, if at all. But NAA says that was not going to cut it anyway.

NAA says retaining the ban goes against the FCC's goals of encouraging original reporting by jeopardizing investment and resources in an "ever-changing climate."

The filing came only a day after Gannett said it was dividing its broadcast and newspaper holdings into separate companies in part to have more flexibility to gain new assets with more regulatory flexibility.

NAA argues that the FCC is regulating like it's 1975 — when the ban was established — rather than in a market where only broadcasters and newspapers are restricted, but emerging website news competitors "routinely pilfer the content of newspapers and broadcasters."

It also offered up examples of newspaper/TV crossownerships in Phoenix, Dayton, South Bend, Milwaukee, Cedar Rapids, Atlanta and Spokane (combos that were grandfathered), which it says produce "compelling journalism that benefits the public. "

To check out those examples, click here.

NAA represents almost 2,000 newspapers. Its stance is in contrast to The Newspaper Guild-CWA, the newspaper union, which argues the ban should be retained.

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.