McDowell: Broadcasters Weighted Down With Legacy Regs
Says newspaper/broadcast cross-ownership ban needs radical reform, at least
By John Eggerton -- Broadcasting & Cable, 9/27/2012 12:00:00 PM
That came in a speech Thursday to the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters fall conference in Washington, according to a copy of the text.
McDowell was there to receive an award from NABOB for his support of broadcast diversity initiatives, notably his backing for an end to the no urban/Hispanic ad dictates, something NABOB had pushed for decades before the FCC finally followed through in 2007 as part of its 13-item Diversity Order.
McDowell told his audience that it was time to "largely -- if not completely -- eliminate the newspaper/broadcast cross-ownership ban." While he has argued that an increasingly competitive marketplace suggests the presumption should be that the rule go away. He also pointed out to B&C in an interview in advance of the speech that the record is still open -- the FCC has not completed studies on the impact of its rules on diversity. "It might be possible to have a presumption that the rules should go away, but if someone wants to file evidence that would harm a diversity of voices in a market, we would consider it."
McDowell said that he was happy to consider all options, but his "hypothesis" is that the presumption should be flipped. "Right now, there is a presumption that combinations create scenarios that undermine the public interest. I think the market has moved well beyond that. It certainly needs radical reform."
He made that crystal clear in his speech. "Established in 1975, [the ban] is as out of date as the disco music and polyester leisure suits of its birth year. A growing body of evidence indicates that this obsolete rule actually may be exacerbating the demise of diverse local voices that provide important news and information. In other words, the ban is producing the opposite result of its intended effect."
McDowell put in his Groundhog Day-like call -- one he has repeated often over the years -- for Congress to give tax breaks to companies who sell media properties to small and disadvantaged businesses.
Given the absence of those study results, which then must be put out for comment, Broadcasters likely won't get any answer on the newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership ban or other possible media ownership rule revisions this year.
By allowing cross ownership an owner can completely dominate a market. If it is allowed we may move our station to an all news format and then rock the region with a new newspaper that will reflect the country's values (no more war for big bankers, etc.).
This may be an exciting time!
Johnny B - 10/1/2012 11:56:51 AM EDT
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