Yesterday the FCC approved a bunch of new rules:
They adopted rules to promote video programming diversity by ensuring new video programmers can enter and compete in the video market. Specifically, they set the number of subscribers a cable operator may serve at 30 percent nationwide. The hope is that this will offer consumers great choice.
They amended the 32-year-old absolute ban on newspaper/broadcast cross-ownership by crafting an approach that would presumptively allow a newspaper to own one television station or one radio station in the 20 largest markets, subject to strict criteria and limitations. The hope seems to be provide newspapers with means to generate more revenue at a time when many newspapers are unable to operate for financial reasons.
They adopted a Report and Order (Order) which will expand opportunities for participation in the broadcasting industry by new entrants and small businesses, including minority- and women-owned businesses, to own broadcast outlets. They have put into place a number of rules that supports diversity and small businesses. Some of these read like EEO rules, which seemed like they should be stating the obvious.
They sets forth proposals to increase local programming content and diversity in communities across America. I liked the focus on getting the public more involved with local programming. I think the technology is there to make that a practical goal.
You can learn more about the reasoning behind these decisions in a statement by Kevin Martin on Media Ownership.
Now the recommendations move on to the Capitol. The newspaper rule is expected to have some trouble with lawmakers. It will be interesting to see what happens with the rest. One the one hand is does seem to be a blow to cable incumbents but a boost to the big newspaper guns.