(WASHINGTON) — The Federal Communications Commission made good Thursday on a promise made by Chairman Ajit Pai last month by eliminating restrictions on ownership of multiple media outlets within a single market.
The decision on Thursday eliminates a rule adopted in 1975 barring shared ownership of a newspaper and a broadcast operation within the same market. “With the newspaper industry in crisis, it makes no sense to place regulatory roadblocks in the way of those who want to purchase newspaper,” Pai said in a statement. “The media landscape has changed dramatically in the last 42 years, and the idea that a company could dominate a media market by owning a radio station and a newspaper is utter nonsense.”
Pai cited the Internet and cable news as new entrants in the media marketplace that make the rule obsolete.
“To be sure, repealing the newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership rule won’t end the newspaper industry’s struggles. But it will open to door to pro-competitive combinations that can strengthen local voices and enable both newspapers and broadcast stations to better serve their communities,” he added.
Critics of the decision say it will lead to further concentration of power to a limited number of large media conglomerates. One such example is Sinclair Broadcasting, a conservative broadcasting company that is looking to purchase the Tribune Media Group for nearly $4 billion. Thursday’s decision would no longer require Sinclair to sell a number of its stations to receive regulatory approval.
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