US regulator relaxes rules on newspaper and TV ownership
NEW YORK - The US media regulator has controversially voted in favour of allowing companies to own newspapers and TV stations in the same city.
The Federal Communications Commission has voted three to two in favour of overturning a 32-year ban preventing media owners from having majority control of news media in America's 20 largest cities.
Under the new rules, a media company would be allowed to own a newspaper and broadcaster in the 20 largest US cities, providing eight independently owned companies remain and the broadcast outlet was not among the top four in the market.
In deregulating US media ownership laws, the FCC could pave the way for media giants such as News Corporation and LA Times publisher Tribune to add to their newspaper and TV assets.
The vote was supported by Republican FCC commissioners Deborah Taylor Tate and Robert McDowell, but opposed by their Democrat counterparts Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein.
Kevin Martin, the Republican chairman of the FCC, swung the decision with his deciding vote. However, 25 Democrat and Republican Senators, including four Democratic Presidential candidates, have now vowed to revoke the decision.
Critics of the FCC's decision have said it could create a news media monopoly in some of the US's largest cities, while supporters argue the deregulation liberalises media ownership and that the initial law, which was introduced by Gerald R Ford's administration in 1975, has become outdated.
The original law was set up to stop a single company or individual controlling all of the media in a particular US city. The FCC tried to relax media ownership laws in 2003, but the move was rejected in the Federal Appeals Court.
Copps said: "In the final analysis, the real winners today are the businesses that are in many cases quite healthy, and the real losers are going to be all of us who depend on the news media to learn what's happening in our communities and to keep an eye on local government."
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