FCC: More Waiver Trouble

The fast-track waivers that the FCC granted Lightsquared have received a lot of attention lately, none of which makes the federal agency look good. Now the courts have struck down another set of waivers that the FCC granted to allow some companies to own a newspaper and a television station in the same market. The Third Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the agency’s decision that was made back in 2008.

The FCC originally created the TV station-newspaper ownership prohibition back in 1975. There are also complex rules, imposed in 2008, that govern how many television stations that one company can own in one market, or how many radio stations. There are also limits on the combined ownership of television and radio stations in one market. The concern behind all of these rules is to foster competition, and to try to prevent one company from dominating all the broadcast media in a given market.

The FCC is in the middle of a major review of all the rules governing broadcast and newspaper ownership. Given that newspapers are no longer the dominant force that they once were, and some papers in even major cities are struggling to survive, there is no doubt that the FCC needs to consider the changing landscape of media distribution. Market forces are already eliminating alternate sources of news and information, and it would seem that preserving competition would be in the best interests of the citizens as a whole.