Public Interest and the FCC
The Telecommunications Act of 1996 marked a major shift in the way the Federal Communications Commision, or FCC, deals with media ownership. Among its changes, the Act allowed companies to own more than one radio station within a local market and removed a limit on national radio marketshare. The result was more than 1,000 radio mergers within one year.
Since 1996, the FCC has continued on its course of deregulating media ownership. In 2003, the agency attempted its most dramatic deregulation yet, allowing cross-media ownership. That is, owning broadcast and print media within the same local market. But after a federal court struck down many of the deregulations (and the Supreme Court refused to hear multiple appeals), the FCC was told to revisit its reasoning behind relaxing its media ownership rules.
Now, the FCC appears to be ready to try this again. Chairman Kevin J. Martin has announced that he wants a vote on cross-media deregulation in the next two months.
The last time the FCC tried this, it was flooded with 3,000,000 public comments against the rule change, it went ahead with it anyway and a federal court threw out the new rules.
What will happen this time?
FCC’s new plans for deregulation here.
Promethius Radio Group (anti-deregulation activist group that won its case against the FCC’s 2003 rules) here.
Hey, I wrote a paper about the FCC and the public interest in grad school! It’s right here.