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2004-07-30 14:12:03
What is Media (Ownership) Consolidation?

The processes of eliminating legal prohibitions on crossover ownership and of lifting caps on the number of stations that can be held by an individual entity.

Media regulation goes as far back in history as 1941, when Local Radio Ownership Rule and National TV Ownership Rule were enacted. According to the Rules, a broadcaster cannot own TV stations that reach more than 35 % of the nation’s homes. The following is a short list of some important events in the history of media regulation:

1970: Radio/TV Cross-Ownership Restriction is enacted, prohibiting a broadcaster from owning a radio station and a TV station in the same market.
1975: Newspaper/Broadcast Cross-Ownership Prohibition is enacted, banning ownership of both a newspaper and a TV station in the same market.
1981: Reagan Administration moves to deregulate media ownership, extending TV licenses from three to five years and increasing the number of TV stations any single entity could own from 7 to 12.
1987: "Fairness Doctrine," in place since the founding of the FCC that required its licensees, i.e., "public trustees" to maintain balanced and contrasting viewpoints and perform public services, is eliminated.
1996: the Telecommunications Act of 1996, signed by President Clinton, lifts the 40-station ownership cap, leading to massive consolidations in radio industry.
2001-2004: the FCC revises its limits for broadcast ownership but multiple parties appeal the decision.
July 23, 2003: The House votes 400-21 to approve a spending bill that includes a provision to block the FCC decision to allow major television networks to own up to 45 % of the country’s viewers. The Bush Administration has voiced opposition to the attempt to rescind the FCC ruling.
June 24, 2004:  The US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit strikes down the FCC’s proposed new rules to loosen control on media ownership….

Despite the most recent bump on its progress, media consolidation has already irrevocably taken place. In the past few years, the largest media companies have become ever-expanding conglomerations through the mergers and crossover ownership of increasing numbers of businesses that are traditionally separate domains, such as film, TV, cable, radio, books and magazines, music, and the Internet. For instance, one of the largest mergers in corporate history made America Online (AOL) and Time Warner the biggest media corporation in the world. Some of the companies within the corporation are: Warner Bros., CNN, Time and Fortune magazines (and 33 others), 24 book brands, and AOL. In the radio industry, For instance, Clear Channel Communications owns 1200 stations, in all 50 states, reaching (according to their web site) more than 110 million listeners every week. Viacom’s Infinity radio network holds more than 180 radio stations in 41 markets. ‡ See Who Owns What in the TC

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