MAP Asks Court To Overturn News Corp. Waivers

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Consolidation critic Media Access Project (MAP) has appealed the FCC's decision to allow News Corp. to continue to own WNYW(TV) New York and The New York Post.

On October 6th, the commission gave News Corp. a permanent waiver of its newspaper/broadcast cross-ownership rule for the station in the nation's top market. They also gave a temporary waiver of 24 months to continue to own WWOR-TV Secaucus, N.J., and The Post.

MAP argues that the commission 1) "erroneously represented" that the Fox waiver was unopposed; 2) "failed to provide public notice of Fox's request for a waiver...or seek public comment; and 3) failed to explain its change of position since a 2001 decision rejeting a similar waiver request and requiring Fox to come into compliance with the newspaper/broadcast crossownership ban.

One change since 2001 is that FCC's 2003 move to lift the crossownership ban. It was part of a deregulatory rule rewrite stayed by a federal court in Philadelphia, but one of the parts the court didn't seem to have a problem with. The commission is currently considering how to modify or scrap the crossownership ban as part of its current court and Congress ordered review of its media ownership rules.

MAP asked the D.C. Court of Appeals to vacate the decision and to extend the permanent waiver to News Corp.

That move came just a week after MAP asked the FCC to deny the renewal of Tribune's license for KTLA Los Angeles over the issue of its co-ownership of the Los Angeles Times.

Tribune has been operating the station under an FCC waiver of the newspaper/broadcast crossownership rule and has asked the FCC to make that waiver permanent or at least extend it.

MAP and various consumer groups and anti-consolidation activists, have asked the FCC not to scrap the crossownership ban, including identifying L.A. as a highly concentrated market.

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