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FCC: Consolidate now!

The Current is frantically parsing today's decision by the FCC to relax, as the parlance goes, the 32-year absolute ban on newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership. If we're reading the PR-massaged bureaucratese correctly, the commissioners' reasoning is that it doesn't serve the public's interest to have a passel of unrelated fly-by-night (economically speaking) media owners floundering alone in the avatar-infested waters of the digital age when a Daddy Warbucks-style conglomerate could make everyone a helluva lot happier with creative cost-cutting, personnel maximization, and synergy. Do not read the last as license (ahem) to consolidate print and signal newsrooms, however -- the FCC promises to make cross-owners pinky-swear that editorial decisions will be made independently.

(p.s. Does this mean the Current, instead of working diligently on next week's Year in Review dossier, will be phoning our very own [friendly Irish family] conglomerate [Times-Shamrock, in case you don't read the fine print in the front of our paper] to see if we can have a TV station for Christmas? You bet!)

So, whose fault is this, really? The daily papers, apparently, whose less-than-robust subscription roles have convinced the FCC that media competition is alive and well. (Still, no discussion of quality vs. quantity in the FCC's analysis of new-media winners and losers. Not the FCC's forte, perhaps). At any rate, read the news for yourself at fcc.gov, and should you wish to ask Congress to intervene, freepress.net will help you contact your lawmakers.

More tomorrow on the FCC's spoonful of sugar: rules purporting to make it easier for minorities and women to own broadcast outlets and to promote more local content.

Posted by Elaine Wolff on 12/18/2007
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