Wheeler Paves Way for Combined Media Ownership Review

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has signaled he will put his own stamp on the FCC's media ownership rule review.

He has taken out of circulation the year-old proposal by FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski to loosen the newspaper-broadcast crossownership ban and lift the ban on newspaper-radio crossownership.

That is likely in part a procedural move signaling that review, which was actually due in 2010, will be rolled into the 2014 review and released sometime next year, something that had been expected after the FCC did not schedule a vote on an item at the December meeting.

The move was described as one made by both the chairman and commissioners to give the item a fresh look, but with the idea that the commission will move expeditiously on a new item.

It also allows the chairman to put his stamp on the ownership rule review given his own assessment of the record and calls by some in Congress to hold off until the FCC collects more info on the impact of shared service and marketing agreements and whether the FCC should count them toward ownership limits.

The Justice Department just this week told Gannett it would have to completely divest a St. Louis Belo station, rather than spin it off and provide some services via a sharing arrangement.

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.