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Broadcast Ownership Regulation in a Border Era: An Analysis of how the U.S. Federal Communications Commission is Shaping the Debate on Broadcast Ownership Limits
Unformatted Document Text:  22 television shortly after the 1996 Act, where the number group owned stations increased and the number of group owners decreased (pp. 25-26). As for Aufderheide’s (1999) second question: Was this the problem that needed solving? The answer is ‘no,’ as broadcasters may have overstated the challenges facing their industry. This seems likely since the major broadcast networks had begun merging with the very industries that were supposedly threatening them (e.g., cable networks, film studios, etc.) before the 1996 Act. For example, the Walt Disney Corporation purchased Capital Cities/ABC in 1995, which merged several film studios with a major broadcast network, including ten television stations, twenty-one radio stations, cable networks, and a host of publications. Shortly thereafter, News Corporation acquired New World Communications Group, which united another film entity with a major broadcast network and a leading television station owner. In this case, a more pertinent question would have been ‘how do we deal with the effects that these types of mergers and acquisitions within telecommunications industries have on the notions of localism, diversity, competition and the public interest?’ Concentration within these industries has often resulted in fewer choices and higher prices for consumers, as well as many other negative outcomes (see Alger, 1998; and McChesney, 1997). Ironically, former President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore had endorsed the 1996 Act under the rubric of protecting consumers against these types of concerns. President Clinton said during the Act’s signing ceremony that it “guarantees the diversity of voices our democracy depends upon” (Clinton, 1996). Vice President Gore even went so far as to say that “in the interest of promoting diversity of voices and viewpoints that are so important to our democracy, this legislation will prevent undue concentration in television and radio ownership” (Gore, 1996). Clearly, however,

Authors: Blevins, Jeffrey. and Brown, Duncan.
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television shortly after the 1996 Act, where the number group owned stations increased and the
number of group owners decreased (pp. 25-26).
As for Aufderheide’s (1999) second question: Was this the problem that needed solving?
The answer is ‘no,’ as broadcasters may have overstated the challenges facing their industry.
This seems likely since the major broadcast networks had begun merging with the very industries
that were supposedly threatening them (e.g., cable networks, film studios, etc.) before the 1996
Act. For example, the Walt Disney Corporation purchased Capital Cities/ABC in 1995, which
merged several film studios with a major broadcast network, including ten television stations,
twenty-one radio stations, cable networks, and a host of publications. Shortly thereafter, News
Corporation acquired New World Communications Group, which united another film entity with
a major broadcast network and a leading television station owner.
In this case, a more pertinent question would have been ‘how do we deal with the effects
that these types of mergers and acquisitions within telecommunications industries have on the
notions of localism, diversity, competition and the public interest?’ Concentration within these
industries has often resulted in fewer choices and higher prices for consumers, as well as many
other negative outcomes (see Alger, 1998; and McChesney, 1997). Ironically, former President
Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore had endorsed the 1996 Act under the rubric of
protecting consumers against these types of concerns. President Clinton said during the Act’s
signing ceremony that it “guarantees the diversity of voices our democracy depends upon”
(Clinton, 1996). Vice President Gore even went so far as to say that “in the interest of promoting
diversity of voices and viewpoints that are so important to our democracy, this legislation will
prevent undue concentration in television and radio ownership” (Gore, 1996). Clearly, however,


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