FCC begins ownership reg review

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The Federal Communications Commission's long-awaited rewrite of its entire
stable of broadcast-ownership rules got under way Thursday.

Despite chairman Michael Powell's pledge to preserve the diversity of media
voices, public advocates, industry employees and one FCC commissioner warned
that the agency risks a new round of deregulation that would increase monopoly
and greatly diminish the expression of multiple viewpoints necessary in a free
society.

"At stake are old and honored values of localism, diversity, competition and
the multiplicity of voices and choices that undergirds our American democracy,"
Democratic commissioner Michael Copps said.

Under review are rules limiting national broadcast ownership, cross-ownership
of local radio and TV stations, TV duopolies and dual TV-network ownership.
Consolidated into that rulemaking will be previously launched proceedings on
local broadcast/newspaper cross-ownership and local radio concentration.

Of those, the long-standing walls blocking cable systems and newspapers from
owning broadcast properties in their markets are almost certain to fall, as are
the national caps on broadcast-TV household reach and cable-subscriber
share.

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