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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:  3 The FCC had carried out this mandate rather mechanically in 1998 and 2000 under William Kennard’s chairmanship of the FCC during President Bill Clinton’s administration. However, the FCC’s 2002 review under Chairman Powell promises to be “the most comprehensive look at media ownership regulation ever undertaken by the FCC,” according to an FCC press release announcing the third biennial review (FCC, 2002, September 12). The FCC’s third biennial review has taken on increased significance because of the recent decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in Fox Television Stations, Inc. v. FCC (2002), which called into question the validity of the current ownership cap. In its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, the FCC acknowledged that the courts believe Section 202(h) of the Telecommunications Act carries “a presumption in favor of repealing or modifying the ownership rules” (para. 3). Furthermore, the FCC pointed out that it also recognized that “the marketplace has changed dramatically over the last few decades, with both greater competition and diversity, and increasing consolidation” (Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, para. 4). Here, it seems that the FCC is linking greater competition and diversity to the effects of consolidation after the 1996 Act. Accordingly, the current FCC notice initiated review of four specific ownership rules: the national television ownership rule that prohibits any entity from owning television stations with a combined audience reach that exceeds 35% of U.S. television households; the local television multiple ownership rule that allows a single entity to own no more than two television stations in a given market; the radio-television cross- ownership rule that generally allows a single entity to own no more than two television stations and six radio stations in a given market; and the dual network rule that permits a television broadcast station to affiliate with a network that maintains more than one broadcast network, so long as it does not involve a combination of the ABC, CBS, NBC or Fox networks (Notice of

Authors: Blevins, Jeffrey. and Brown, Duncan.
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The FCC had carried out this mandate rather mechanically in 1998 and 2000 under
William Kennard’s chairmanship of the FCC during President Bill Clinton’s administration.
However, the FCC’s 2002 review under Chairman Powell promises to be “the most
comprehensive look at media ownership regulation ever undertaken by the FCC,” according to
an FCC press release announcing the third biennial review (FCC, 2002, September 12).
The FCC’s third biennial review has taken on increased significance because of the
recent decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in Fox Television
Stations, Inc. v. FCC (2002), which called into question the validity of the current ownership
cap. In its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, the FCC acknowledged that the courts believe
Section 202(h) of the Telecommunications Act carries “a presumption in favor of repealing or
modifying the ownership rules” (para. 3). Furthermore, the FCC pointed out that it also
recognized that “the marketplace has changed dramatically over the last few decades, with both
greater competition and diversity, and increasing consolidation” (Notice of Proposed
Rulemaking, para. 4). Here, it seems that the FCC is linking greater competition and diversity to
the effects of consolidation after the 1996 Act. Accordingly, the current FCC notice initiated
review of four specific ownership rules: the national television ownership rule that prohibits any
entity from owning television stations with a combined audience reach that exceeds 35% of U.S.
television households; the local television multiple ownership rule that allows a single entity to
own no more than two television stations in a given market; the radio-television cross-
ownership rule that generally allows a single entity to own no more than two television stations
and six radio stations in a given market; and the dual network rule that permits a television
broadcast station to affiliate with a network that maintains more than one broadcast network, so
long as it does not involve a combination of the ABC, CBS, NBC or Fox networks (Notice of


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