Groups File Against Tribune Waiver Requests - Broadcasting & Cable

Groups File Against Tribune Waiver Requests

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Late Monday, anti-consolidation activists filed a petition at the FCC to deny the transfer of Tribune's TV licenses as part of its

planned move to take the company private

.

The Office of Communication of the United Church of Christ (UCC) and the Media Alliance, represented by Media Access Project (MAP), argue that Tribune should not be able to extend its collection of permanent and temporary waivers of the newspaper/broadcast crossownership ban to the new owners, a group led by investor Sam Zell.

Tribune has operated a number of stations and newspapers in the same market under waivers of the FCC's newspaper-crossownership ban. The FCC has granted those waivers due, in part, to the regulatory uncertainty surrounding its ongoing attempt to revise the media ownership rules, including potentially scrapping that ban.

The Philadelphia federal appeals court that remanded the commission's 2003 rule rewrite said lifting the ban was one of the moves the FCC had sufficiently justified.

UCC and the alliance argue that Tribune should not be allowed to continue to own the stations and newspapers. Tribune has five such combos among its 23 TV stations and 11 newspapers, including the L.A. Times and KTLA, WPIX and Newsday in New York, and The Hartford Courant and two stations there. 

They stated that the crossownerships are supposed to be divested upon the sale of the company and that the waivers are not in the public interest because the combos decrease diversity of news sources in the markets.

Tribune has cited the regulatory uncertainty about the fate of the crossownership rule and says there remains plenty of viewpoint diversity and that combining print and broadcast resources will allow for more diversity and stronger news.

A delegation of Illinois legislators last month asked FCC Chairman Kevin Martin for swift action

on Tribune's waiver requests

).

Financial analysts predict the

FCC will ultimately grant the waivers

. FCC Chairman

Kevin Martin is no fan

of the crossownership ban. In an interview with B&C earlier this year, Martin pointed out that the rule predated the explosion of cable channels and the Internet.

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