Lighting-fast Deregulation and Consolidation: FCC Approves Fox/News Purchase of Additional NYC TV Station

  • Lighting-fast Deregulation and Consolidation: FCC Approves Fox/News Purchase of Additional NYC TV Station
    As the New York Times reports, the FCC approved, with commissioner votes cutting entirely down party lines, News Corp.’s purchase of Chris-Craft, which includes many more TV stations, most notably another TV station in the New York City market, where News already owns one. FCC rules restrict there being a duopoly in a market where a TV station and daily newspaper are co-owned. Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. was given a waiver on this years ago when the owner of the NY Post was given permission to buy WNYW-TV. Now he’s been given another waiver allowing him to also own WWOR-TV, with the limit that he must comply within 2 years. However, given that FCC Chairman Powell has made it abundantly clear that he intends to see the duopoly rule done away with, this move seems more like a first step in deregulation rather than a temporary waiver.

    According to the Times, News Corp. is considering plans to combine management and marketing staffs between the two stations, although leaving the newsrooms separate, aside from some “sharing of talent.” The LA Times takes note of the division on the FCC over this ruling, where all Democrats voted against the sale. Dem. Commissioner Gloria Tristiani said of the deal, “Today’s decision further diminishes the marketplace of ideas. This decision also shows the lengths the commission will go to avoid standing in the way of media mergers.”

    What’s interesting in reading coverage of this type of deal is how much attention is paid to the advantages News Corp. will gain in having more power in the TV & print news market, and how maybe it’ll take greater risks in news programming–though, sensationalist tabloid TV like “A Current Affair” and “America’s Most Wanted” are given as examples. But, yet, no real articulation of reasonable positive gain for viewers, readers or citizens is given at all. The only defense from the standpoint of the public is given by Chairman Powell, who claims that long-term effects of this waiver will “outweigh any temporary impact on diversity and competition and is in the public interest.” Gee, that’s a great claim, is there any evidence, or maybe even a good argument to back that up?

    It’s amazing to recognize for just a moment that the real presumption here is that “whatever is good for News Corp is good for America.” Trickle down is alive and well, and I think I’m being pissed on.

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