FCC Making It Tough For Murdoch In L.A.
The FCC is modifying its proposal to relax the broadcast-newspaper crossownership rule in a way that could dash any hopes that Rupert Murdoch might have of buying the Los Angeles Times from Tribune Co. and keeping his Fox O&O there, KTTV.
FCC officials said the change would essentially make clear that there is a presumption against allowing an owner of a TV station that moves between fourth and fifth place in the ratings to buy a daily newspaper in the same top-20 market.
In Los Angeles, KTTV, Murdoch’s Fox affiliate, and KMEX, Univision’s O&O there, sometimes swap places between the 4th and 5th slots.
Some watchdog group representatives have been voicing opposition, concerned that the FCC’s proposed changes in its regulations could benefit Murdoch—and allow him buy the Los Angeles Times.
Chairman Julius Genachowski’s basic proposal is to create a presumption in favor of a TV-newspaper merger in the top 20 markets, but only if there would be eight major media outlets remaining, and the deal did not involve a station that ranks among the top four in ratings. There would be a presumption against TV-newspaper mergers that didn’t meet those criteria.
“Commission officials have always understood ‘major TV stations’ to include stations that may move between the No. 4 and No. 5 position in a given market,” an FCC spokesman said.
“To the extent there’s any ambiguity on that point, it would be clarified with language in the order before the order is finalized,” the spokesman continued. “The assertion that the FCC’s order would make it easier for a top-four TV station—or for a TV station that moves between fourth and fifth in the rankings—to acquire a newspaper is simply false. In fact, it would make it harder.”
News Corp. spokesman Nathaniel Brown declined to comment.