View Full Version : The giant elephant in the room... Corporate Controlled For-Profit Media

09-08-2004, 11:25 AM
... and how the notion of a "liberal media" is a total joke.


Media ownership limits may depend on election


September 8, 2004

Big media companies are striking out in efforts to bat away some of the uncertainty over how much they will be allowed to own - and the final answers may hinge on who is elected president.

On Friday, a federal appeals court rejected Tribune Co.'s attempt to lift a ban on owning a TV station and newspaper in the same big-city market. Chicago-based Tribune, whose properties include Newsday and WPIX/11 in New York, says it plans to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

But analysts say the high court probably will not even take the case, especially if the federal government does not back a court fight to retain Federal Communications Commissions rules loosening limits on media ownership. The FCC is not expected to decide whether to appeal until after the election.

The eventual outcome may depend on what the FCC does to revise its rules. And what it does may depend on whether George Bush or John Kerry is the next president, since the panel's makeup could change drastically.

"Of all the issues affecting the telecom-media sector, the one issue on which Bush and Kerry have the most predictable differences is media ownership," said Blair Levin, media regulatory analyst at investment firm Legg Mason.

In its Friday ruling on cross-ownership, the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia refused to reverse part of its June decision that the FCC had improperly loosened a wide array of media ownership limits in 2003.

Tribune "has so much bet on this thing and they're really starting to sweat," said Andrew Schwartzman, president of the Media Access Project, which represents a group seeking strict limits on media ownership. "There's billions of dollars sitting on the sidelines - transactions that are being held up."

Shaun Sheehan, the lobbyist for Tribune in Washington, D.C., acknowledged that the company's appeal was an "outside shot," but said resolution of the cross-ownership issue should not be held up along with the other FCC media rules because diversity of news sources is inherent in the big-city markets where Tribune seeks to own papers and TV stations.

"At the end of the day we may be vindicated - we rather think we will be, except the day's getting awfully long," Sheehan said.

In addition to Tribune, the extent of ownership limits could affect possible plans by companies including CBS parent Viacom, Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., Gannett and Media General.

Analysts say the case does not appear to raise issues that would tempt the high court. Even if the Supreme Court agrees to hear the case, it might not rule until June.

Kerry, who opposes media consolidation, has called for a reversal of the FCC's relaxation of ownership limits. His election would mean a shake-up of the five-member panel, putting Democrats in the majority and possibly elevating commissioner Michael Copps to chairman.

Even if Bush remains president, it is uncertain whether Republican Michael Powell will remain chairman of the FCC.

Either way, a new FCC may take a year to draft new ownership rules - and there is no guarantee those will meet court objections.

Instead, the FCC may end up reviewing media acquisitions on a case-by-case basis instead of seeking to impose far-reaching rules, some analysts say.

The first crunch for Tribune could come Aug. 1, 2006, when its license for TV station KTLA in Los Angeles expires, after which it has one year to decide whether to drop the station or its newspaper there, the Los Angeles Times. The license for WPIX, which is in the same market as Newsday, expires Feb. 1, 2007. If the rules don't change Tribune could seek a waiver or be forced to sell one of the properties in each city.

09-08-2004, 11:29 AM
So Kerry opposes media/telecom consolidation?


I couldn't get anybody to answer this question a few months ago.

I wonder how he intends to approach shared facilities and rate stabilization then?

09-08-2004, 11:37 AM
So Kerry opposes media/telecom consolidation?
I wonder how he intends to approach shared facilities and rate stabilization then?

He went to Vietnam....

09-08-2004, 11:47 AM
Eliminate the FCC. The FCC, in their meddling, has already ****ed up Sunday Ticket and Sat radio because local stations have cried to the FCC. Regulation - bad. Deregulation - good.

09-08-2004, 11:58 AM
Regulation - bad. Deregulation - good.
To an extent.

09-08-2004, 12:52 PM
He went to Vietnam....

Why are you questioning his patriotism?

09-08-2004, 12:55 PM
He went to Vietnam....

I thought it was Cambodia.

09-08-2004, 12:59 PM
shhhh, that was a super-duper secret missing to assassinate Pol Pot; but it failed because the soldiers got too tied up in slaughtering babies and making ear necklaces.