NAB: Martin’s Newspaper-Broadcast Cross-Ownership Changes Not Enough

The National Association of Broadcasters told the Federal Communications Commission it should do more for broadcasters than simply modifying the ban on newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership.

In comments on FCC chairman Kevin Martin's proposal to lift the ban in the top 20 markets for stations rated below the top four, the NAB said that was the least it could do, adding that a "more extensive revision" is supported by a "voluminous record" supporting the NAB's contention that the ban is "no longer in the public interest."

But the NAB took issue with the chairman's view that no further deregulation is warranted, saying it "strongly believes that the Nov. 13 proposal does not reflect current video-marketplace realities because it makes no changes to the existing television-duopoly rule" and favors loosening radio-ownership rules, as well.

As for TV, the NAB pointed out that the D.C. Court of Appeals found that the TV-duopoly restriction was arbitrary and capricious because cable and other nonbroadcast media were not counted in the "voices" test for allowing dual ownership of two stations in a market. The FCC currently allows such ownership in large markets, but not smaller ones.

Martin made his proposal in an op-ed piece in The New York Times and gave the public until Dec. 11 to respond before a planned Dec. 18 vote, although some congressional Democrats are trying to block that vote.

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.