Media ownership
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is considering reversing an 80-year ban which prohibits one company from owning a newspaper and television station in the same market. Industry advocates wish to allow one media company in a single city to acquire as many as two television stations, eight radio stations and a major newspaper. Currently, there are 10 media companies which own about 700 local television stations across the country. Opponents say that a truthful, objective and inclusive media is indispensable to our democracy. They worry more consolidation would limit diversity and ideas in the marketplace, giving a small number of media giants too much influence in shaping our public debate. They claim these changes would spur a wave of mergers that will crowd out independent stations and stifle local coverage and dissenting viewpoints. Critics say this is exactly what occurred in 1996 after the FCC revised ownership rules for radio stations. These changes reduced the number of radio station owners by 25%, from 5,100 in 1996 to 3,800 by 2001.

The FCC claims its media ownership rule changes will give consumers better access to a wider range of cable channels and other news and entertainment sources. Many conventional media companies say current FCC rules hinder their ability to compete with emerging digital technology. As evidence of their difficulty in competing with online platforms, they point to the similar problems our newspaper industry has suffered for several years. Overall, media industry representatives claim they could increase efficiency and offer consumers better and more comprehensive news coverage by combining newspaper and TV operations. They also claim any restrictions on media ownership and viewer reach is contrary to the free speech protections of our First Amendment. The FCC is planning to complete its report in 2016.

Pending Legislation: None

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Poll Opening Date
March 26, 2020
Poll Closing Date
April 1, 2020

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