The FCC decision is bad news

The battle over media "cross-ownership" rules -- allowing local newspapers to own local TV and radio stations, and vice versa -- appeared to have been fought, and resolved, four years ago. I described the battle back then, and the stakes, in an Atlantic cover story called "The Age of Murdoch." At the time, the three Republicans on the FCC, led by chairman Michael Powell (Colin's son) voted in favor of the liberalization. The two Democrats, Jonathan Adelstein and Michael Copps, voted against. The liberalization went through, but it was so unpopular and so sloppy in its reasoning that the Congress and courts effectively countermanded it.

The FCC chairman now, Kevin Martin, was the newest White House appointee to the commission back then. I know, from reporting that story, that Michael Powell was badmouthed in leaks from the Administration for handling the whole issue so messily -- and ultimately to so little effect. (Side note; what other father-son team has as much to regret about its service in a single administration as Colin and Michael Powell do about their service under GW Bush?) Now Martin is the force behind the new effort to loosen cross-ownership rules. Nothing against him, but I hope his experience turns out to be the same as Powell's. Adelstein and Copps are still there, and to their credit once again voted No.

Changing the ownership rules was a bad idea four years ago, and it's a bad idea now. Full case in the article. Summary point is: no matter what you think is wrong with the media, corporate concentration won't make things better. Further discussion from the Media Access Project here.