11.02.2017 0

FCC should modernize media rules and allow cross-ownership

By Rick Manning

The digital revolution has transformed the way Americans receive their news and information, and the Federal Communications Commission rightly recognizes this by proposing to open the doors for cross-ownership of broadcast stations and print newspapers in the same market.

TechFreedom President Berin Szóka recently wrote, “Only by getting out of the way can the FCC give traditional media a fighting chance of surviving the Digital Revolution the only way any company can: by digital evolution. Any further delays will only further undermine American journalism.”

Mr. Szóka is correct.

The FCC cross-ownership rules reflect an era when people were almost solely reliant on their local broadcasters and newspapers for information about what was happening in the world. Earlier this week, a representative of Facebook testified to a Senate Judiciary subcommittee that 120 million users got some type of political news from their platform. What’s more, the Pew Research Center reported in September that 52 percent of those aged 18-29 and those aged 30-49 often consume their news online, and that overall, 43 percent of Americans often get their news online. In fact, online is now closing in on TV as the leading news platform for Americans.

Given the vast array of both digital and traditional media sources available today, which provide a wide diversity of opinions, stories, and perspectives, the fears about media dominance in a locality by one owner are no longer valid.

The changes in information dissemination and news delivery over the past two decades have far outstripped the current government strictures against media cross-ownership, and the existing rules put local radio and TV stations and newspapers at a disadvantage as they seek capital to grow and meet the needs of the communities they serve. They face online, cable and satellite competitors that are unrestrained, and it is time to let these local entrepreneurs compete for resources on a level playing field.

The FCC needs to act to take a step in the right direction by ending the archaic cross-ownership rules.

Rick Manning is the President of Americans for Limited Government

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