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Should the FCC rollback anti-consolidation rules on local media ownership?




Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai at his confirmation hearing for a second term as chair of the commission before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee on Capitol Hill July 19, 2017 in Washington, DC.
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai at his confirmation hearing for a second term as chair of the commission before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee on Capitol Hill July 19, 2017 in Washington, DC.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

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In November, the Federal Communications Commission will vote on proposals that would undo anti-consolidation regulations meant to encourage diversity in local media.

The current FCC broadcast rules establish a limit on local media ownership – meaning that there can’t be overlapping ownership between a television station, radio station and newspaper in a single market. The proposed rollbacks would include eliminating the rule barring broadcast and newspaper cross-ownership, and would ease some restrictions on how many radio and television stations can be owned by the same entity. With Republicans in the majority at the FCC, these deregulations are expected to pass.

FCC chairman Ajit Pai said the original rules, many of which were created in the 70s, are outdated and don’t reflect the reality of the digital, multimedia age. Proponents say loosening the rules will allow local journalism to grow and compete with larger institutions. Critics say local media consolidation will lead to less diversity of viewpoints and less local news content.

Are the current FCC rules outdated? Will the loosening of these rules allow local media to compete with bigger, often digital, news outlets? Or will consolidation quash out the diversity of local news media?  

The FCC vote on Reconsidering Broadcast Ownership Rules is slated for the Nov 16 Open Commission Meeting.

Guests:

David Chavern, president and CEO of the newspaper trade group News Media Alliance

Jessica  González, deputy director of Free Press, an advocacy group that opposes media consolidation



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