The Federal Communications Commission voted Tuesday to let one owner control a newspaper and a television station in Denver and other large markets, a change long sought by The Denver Post’s principal owner, William Dean Singleton.
So, now, if you are not one of the top four television stations in the market, you can own a local newspaper. Let us count the things wrong with this.
First, what if I’m number five, I buy a newspaper, and then I pass number four? Do I have to sell the newspaper? Do I get grandfathered in? I can’t imagine a scenario that isn’t either ridiculous, or defeats the purpose of the rule.
The cross-ownership ban was adopted in 1975 with “the twin goals of diversity of viewpoints and economic competition,” the FCC said at the time.
In the age of blogs and the internet and instant access to all sorts of viewpoints, the issue of “diversity of viewpoints” is a little misleading. An increasingly smaller number of people get their news only from newspapers and television. I know the older generation still does to a large extent, but most people my age don’t read newspapers because they’re outdated by the time they get to your door. And then you have to recycle them, and it’s just a huge hassle.
“You take the high cost of news gathering and spread it across multiple platforms and you get multiple revenue streams,” Singleton [publisher of The Denver Post and head of MediaNews Group] said in a 2006 interview.
THIS is what competition is about. Innovating, saving money, providing a better product at a cheaper rate. When you stick these stupid restrictions on who can own what, you make it relatively more expensive to provide news. Who does this help? Certainly not a new company with a great idea about how to get news to people.
When the barriers to enter a market are low, diversity is nearly guaranteed. If I see the market and say, ‘Hey, that one company is the only one providing the service, and they aren’t reaching half the customers", then I have a great opportunity in that market.
It’s things like this where I tend to clash with the Democratic party. I want the government to stop sticking its fingers in where it isn’t needed, based on what the world was like in 1975.
Anyway, this new law is a step in the right direction, but it’s not far enough, and I doubt it will change anything.