FCC may fast-track law change over media ownership

Stephen Foley
Friday 19 October 2007 00:00
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America's most powerful media moguls may win greater freedom to buy up local newspapers and television stations, if a plan to relax US cross-media ownership restrictions is given fast-track approval.

The Federal Communications Commission, the media industry regulator, has launched a new plan that would allow significant media industry consolidation. The commission chairman is pushing for a decision by the end of the year.

Rupert Murdoch's News Corp is among those to have lobbied hard for a loosening of the rules, which the FCC last failed to change four years ago, when a court ruled it did not consult widely enough. A patchwork of local exemptions has muddied the landscape, but civil liberties campaigners have fought to ensure that local media power cannot be concentrated in too few hands.

The new plan would allow a company to own both the dominant newspaper and main TV channel in a city or region. FCC chairman Kevin Martin promised to publish new rules and allow public comment before a vote a week before Christmas.

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