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Subcommittee Looks at Broadcast Ownership Issues

The House Communications Subcommittee is holding a hearing
June 6 on the future of audio, and while its focus is on radio, the discussion
will also include the continued need for ownership rules that implicate TV
station ownership rules.

According to the Republican majority staff memo for the
hearing, among the regulatory issues that "may arise" are the newspaper/broadcast
cross-ownership rule, which the FCC under Democratic chairman Julius
Genachowski has proposed loosening, as did the commission under his Republican
predecessor. That rule prohibits the co-ownership of radio/TV stations with
newspapers, excepted in cases of grandfathered combos or ones granted waivers.

"Opponents of the ban are once again urging the
Commission to eliminate it in light of increased competition and because
newspapers are struggling in the current marketplace," the Republican
staffers said in the memo.

The staffers say the hearing may also deal with the radio-TV
cross-ownership rules, which limit how many TV and radio stations one owner can
have in a market.

The FCC is currently preparing its proposed changes to media
ownership rules in response ot a court remand of the old rules and its
quadrennial rule review mandated by Congress.

The hearing is one of a series that subcommittee Chairman
Greg Walden (R-Ore.) signaled he would be holding on the future of media.

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.