Media activists said they plan to fight Media General Inc.’s request for a Federal Communications Commission waiver that will let it keep both WMBB(TV) and the Jackson County Floridian in Panama City, Fla.
Without a waiver to the FCC’s ban on local TV/newspaper crossownership, Richmond-based Media General will have to divest itself of one of the properties as a condition of renewing WMBB’s license.
The station’s current permit expires Feb. 1 and Media Access Project President Andrew Schwartzman says his group will file a petition to deny the waiver by the Jan. 2 due date.
The petition would be MAP’s second effort to break up a Media General combo.
On behalf of Common Cause and Free Press, MAP has already asked the FCC to breakup the company’s combo in Myrtle Beach, where it owns WBTW(TV) and the Florence (S.C.) Morning News.
FCC rules have allowed Media General to operate the combos despite the ban on local crossownership. Because acquisitions of newspapers don’t typically need approval of any regulator, a TV owner may buy a paper in one of its markets and operate it until the local station’s license is up for renewal.
Over the next three years, every TV station in the country must apply for renewal. Media General also must obtain waivers next year for combos in Columbus, Ga., and Johnson City, Tenn.