US Communication Commission proposes repeal of media ownership rule

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Washington, Oct 18 (UNI) A move by the US Federal Communications Commission to repeal a rule forbidding a particular company to own both a newspaper and a television or radio station in the same city has stirred up decades old debate on media ownership rules.

Federal Communications Commission chairman Kevin J Martin has circulated a plan to repeal old and obsolete media ownership rules in the US, including a rule that forbids a company to own both a newspaper and a television or radio station in the same city, bringing a hope of victory for some executives and media conglomerates , The New York times reported.

According to the ageny officials the proposal appears to have the support of a majority of the five commission members, although it is not clear that Mr Martin would proceed with a sweeping deregulatory approach on a vote of 3 to 2, something his predecessor tried without success.

Currently, a company can own two television stations in the larger markets only if at least one is not among the four largest stations and if there are at least eight local stations.

The rules also limit the number of radio stations that a company can own to not more than eight in each of the largest markets.

The deregulatory proposal is likely to reopen the debate between the media companies, which view the restrictions as anachronistic, and civil rights, labour, religious and other groups that maintain the government has let media conglomerates grow too large.

The moving of advertisements from the newspapers to the internet has forced the regulators to loosen the ownership rules.

But deregulation in the media is difficult politically, because many Republican and Democratic lawmakers are concerned about news outlets in their districts being too tightly controlled by too few companies.

''This is a big deal because we have way too much concentration of media ownership in the United States,'' Senator Byron L Dorgan, Democrat of North Dakota, said at a hearing yesterday called to examine the digital transition of the television industry.

''If the chairman intends to do something by the end of the year, then there will be a firestorm of protest and I'm going to be carrying the wood.'' he added.

UNI

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