WASHINGTON – The U.S. Federal Communications Commission voted Monday to loosen media ownership limits. Here are the detail of the major changes:
DUAL TELEVISION NETWORK BAN: Kept 1946 ban on a company owning more than one of the top four major broadcast networks.
NATIONAL TELEVISION OWNERSHIP: An entity can own local television stations that collectively reach up to 45 percent of the U.S. television audience, up from 35 percent previously.
LOCAL TELEVISION OWNERSHIP: In markets with five or more TV stations, a company may own two stations, but only one of these stations can be among the top four in ratings.
Both commercial and non-commercial stations are counted.
In markets with 18 or more TV stations, a company may own three stations, but only one of these stations can be among the top four in ratings.
For markets with 11 or fewer TV stations in which a company seeks to own two of the top-four stations, the FCC will consider waivers on a case-by-case basis.
Previously the FCC allowed an entity to own two television stations in a market if one of the stations was not one of the top four in the ratings and there were at least eight independently owned and operated commercial or noncommercial stations remaining in the market. First adopted in 1964, a federal appeals court said in 2002 it was troubled by how the FCC measured a market and ordered reconsideration of the rule.
CROSS MEDIA LIMITS: Lifted the 1975 newspaper/broadcast and 1970 radio/television cross-ownership bans and replaced with a formula based on the number of outlets in the market.
In markets with three or fewer television stations, no cross-ownership in permitted.
In markets with nine or more TV stations the ban is eliminated.
In markets with between 4 and 8 television stations, one of the following combinations is permitted:
(A) A daily newspaper, one TV station and up to half of the radio station limit for that market (i.e. if the radio limit in the market is 6, the company can only own 3) OR
(B) A daily newspaper; and up to the radio station limit for that market; (i.e. no TV stations) OR
(C) Two TV stations (if permissible under local TV ownership rule); up to the radio station limit for that market (i.e. no daily newspapers)
LOCAL RADIO OWNERSHIP: The FCC kept the existing radio market limits but adopted geographic areas assigned by Arbitron, a market research firm serving radio broadcasters.
In a radio market with at least 45 stations, an entity may own up to eight stations, but a maximum of five may be the same service (AM or FM). In a radio market with 30 to 44 stations, an entity may own up to seven stations with a maximum of four of the same service. In a radio market with 15 to 29 stations, an entity may own up to six stations, with no more than four of the same service. In markets with 14 or fewer radio stations, an entity can own up to five stations with no more than three of the same service.