FCC votes to kick off review of broadcaster ownership limit

AP News
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Posted: Dec 14, 2017 3:30 PM
FCC votes to kick off review of broadcaster ownership limit

NEW YORK (AP) — The Federal Communications Commission is voting on party lines to kick off a review of how many TV stations one company can own.

The current limit, in place for more than a decade, says that one company can't own TV stations that reach more than 39 percent of the U.S. population. The FCC will determine over the next several months if it should eliminate or change that cap.

Consumer groups worry that raising or getting rid of the cap will lead to more consolidation and fewer voices in local TV, including news broadcasts.

The ownership limit is also a contentious issue because right-leaning broadcaster, Sinclair Broadcast, wants to buy rival Tribune Media. That deal still needs regulatory approval. If cleared, the combined company would reach more than 70 percent of U.S. households.

The three Republicans voted Thursday to proceed with the review, with the two Democrats opposed. Final rules would be voted on down the road.

The FCC has already weakened rules meant to support independent local media, allowing one company to own newspapers and broadcast TV stations in one market and making it easier for one company to own two TV stations in one market. That move was supported by the newspaper and broadcasting industries.