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Media Ownership Rules

June 09, 2002

The Federal Communications Commission is reviewing six key media ownership rules:

National Television Ownership

* Rule: Prohibits any single company from owning TV stations that reach more than 35% of the national audience.

* Status: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled in February that the cap was "arbitrary and capricious." The rule remains in effect, but the FCC must justify it.

Newspaper-Broadcast Cross-Ownership

* Rule: Prohibits ownership of a broadcast TV station and a daily newspaper in the same market.

* Status: Among the media companies that have a waiver is Tribune Co., owner of the Los Angeles Times and KTLA Channel 5. There are no current legal challenges to the rule, but the FCC announced in September that it would consider repealing the ban.

Cable-Broadcast Cross-Ownership

* Rule: Restricts joint ownership of a cable system and broadcast station in the same market.

* Status: Overturned by the D.C. appeals court in February.

Local Television Duopoly

* Rule: Prevents companies from owning two local stations in the same market unless there are eight other local stations serving it. Fox network parent News Corp. and CBS parent Viacom Inc. have aggressively pursued duopoly station ownership. News Corp. owns two TV stations in seven cities; Viacom owns two stations in six cities.

* Status: In April, the D.C. appeals court ordered the FCC to justify the rule.

Cable Horizontal Ownership

* Rule: Prevents cable and other pay-TV operators from serving more than 30% of the market.

* Status: Reversed by the D.C. court in March 2001. The FCC opened an inquiry in September to revise the cap, which has been mandated by Congress.

Cable Vertical Ownership

* Rule: Prevents cable and other pay-TV operators from carrying their own programming or programming produced by affiliated companies on more than 40% of their systems.

* Status: Reversed in March 2001 along with the horizontal cap. Under FCC review.

Source: Los Angeles Times

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