The Federal Communications Commission has voted to allow broadcasters in the nation’s 20 largest media markets the ability to also own a newspaper, overturning a 32-year-old ban.
Kevin Martin, chairman of the FCC, voted in favor of the proposal to lift the 1975 cross ownership ban, which aimed to keep diversity of viewpoints and economic competition. He was joined by two Republican colleagues, while the commission’s two Democrats voted against it.
In a three-page press statement, Martin said that this turnover follows its 2003 review of media ownership laws which “significantly [reduced] the restrictions on owning television stations, radio stations and newspapers in the same market and nationally.”
He went on to say in the statement that, during this time, the Commission supported its overturn but did not go through with uplifting the ban.
Martin attributes the reasoning for the lift to the steady decline in revenue for newspapers and the explosion of news outlets via cable television and the Internet, claiming that the laws are out of date.
However, ban supporters claim that while there may be more outlets, there has been no increase in news reporters and therefore diversity still needs to be protected.