On Tuesday, December 18th, 2007, the Federal Communications Commission, managed to screw-up the broadcasting industry with a move to “ease the reins on media companies seeking to own newspaper and broadcast properties in the same market in the nation's 20 biggest markets”.
Granted, the proposal is intended to affect the top 20 broadcast markets, but, rest assured… it will, as these things always seem to do, eventually affect the entire US. This is truly a case of “the camel’s nose under the tent”. Eventually the entire camel will be under the tent!
Under (FCC chairman Kevin) Martin's proposal, one entity would be permitted to own a newspaper and one broadcast station in the same market. But it must be among the 20 largest media markets in the nation, and following the transaction, at least eight independently owned-and-operated media voices must remain. In addition, the television station might not be among the top four in the market.
Look, the LAST thing we need is less diversity in the way news is gathered, edited, and dispensed, or disseminated to the public. If this move is allowed to become law it will create a “Giant” press machine in all the top 20 Broadcast Markets in America. Even with eight independent operations remaining on the air, "The Giant" will immediately become the “leader of the pack” and... all the others will follow. The Giant will set the standard for that market. Top stories will be decided by The Giant. News cycles will be decided by The Giant. Basically, The Giant will decide what news consumers in that market see, hear, and read. THIS is NOT a good thing.
Now, from a business point of view, I can readily see how this would be desirable, especially for newspapers, which seem to be sinking like rocks in quicksand. What this ruling by the FCC actually is… is a bailout for large newspaper companies who already find themselves in that watery quicksand.
Here’s the thing: This is (Industrial) evolution at work. Newspapers are on the way out. It is the way of dinosaurs! Consumers of news, in the future, (even today, for that matter!) will be getting that news from their electronic devices such as this computer screen from which you are reading this article, or from the screen on their cell phone, or other electronic device. Even if Newspapers continue to print hard copy versions, it has become entirely too expensive to deliver the papers to the consumer’s home. I’m experiencing that very thing in my newspaper market today. One major daily has stopped home delivery in my market... and another cannot get enough carriers because it cost too much for the carrier to drive a gas operated vehicle , deliver the papers, and make a decent profit.
The point is, no matter what the government does to bail out the newspaper industry, it is doomed to failure. But then, there is simply no reason to drag the broadcast industry into the newspaper industry’s problems , or use the broadcasting industry as a “life preserver” for the newspaper industry and, at the same time, deprive the public of diversity in the “news” business. And that is what the FCC has done… if… the Congress doesn’t stop them.