The number of TV and newspaper owners will plunge from 630 currently to
around 250 if the Federal Communications Commission removes restrictions on
local newspaper/TV cross-ownership and lifts the 35 percent cap on one company's
TV-household reach, a consumer advocate predicted Friday.
'This is not a marketplace of ideas that will promote democracy,' said Mark
Cooper, research director for the Consumer Federation of America, at a briefing
sponsored by the AFL-CIO.
The trade-union group counts The Newspaper Guild as a member, and it has
asked the FCC not to lift the cross-ownership restriction.
Canadian journalism professor Stephen Kimber explained how interference from
CanWest Global Communications Corp., his country's largest media conglomerate,
led him to resign as a columnist.
After acquiring one-half of the country's newspapers from the Conrad Black
chain, the company operates TV/newspaper combos in 17 markets. It has barred
editorials and signed op-ed columns that conflict with the corporate position on
the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, Canada's ruling party or CanWest, he said.
In the past two months, the policy has led to the resignation of 'a
half-dozen' columnists and the suspension of 10 reporters, he added.
Democratic FCC commissioner Michael Copps offered a rundown of the agency's
review of cross-ownership restrictions, but the frequent critic of deregulation
said he hasn't made up his mind on this issue.