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BRIEFLY / COMPANY TOWN ANNEX

FCC's Powell to Probe Cross-Ownership Rules

March 30, 2001|Edmund Sanders

In his first congressional testimony since becoming chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, Michael K. Powell promised to open a formal inquiry by May to consider repealing a cross-ownership rule that prevents media companies from owning newspapers and broadcast stations in the same market. Though the FCC has discussed reviewing the rule for several years, Powell said the agency would issue a notice of proposed rule-making within the next two months. Powell has raised doubts in the past about whether FCC ownership rules--put in place in the 1970s to promote competition and diversity--are still needed. Newspaper companies--particularly Los Angeles Times owner Tribune Co.--are pushing to scrap the rule. Unless the requirement is removed, Tribune might be forced to divest itself of either The Times or its Los Angeles television station, KTLA. The inquiry will not affect other ownership rules, such as one that prevents television broadcasters from serving more than 35% of the U.S. population.

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