American media conglomerates would be the big winners under a plan circulated this week by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission. The plan would, reported the New York Times, relax media ownership rules that have been in place since 1974, and would repeal a rule forbidding a company to own both a newspaper and a television or radio station in the same city.
Excerpts from the Times story:
The deregulatory proposal is likely to put the agency once again at the center of a debate between the media companies, which view the restrictions as anachronistic, and civil rights, labor, religious and other groups that maintain the government has let media conglomerates grow too large.
As advertising increasingly migrates from newspapers to the Internet, the newspaper industry has undergone a wave of upheaval and consolidation. That has put new pressure on regulators to loosen 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.
The story has a fair bit of background, including previous attempts to relax the rules, and concerns that the rules are too restrictive.
Hat tip to Press Notes of the Society of Professional Journalists.