For decades, the US has had certain "media cross-ownership" limits to prevent, for example, a single company from owning both a local broadcast network and a newspaper. These rules came about back when those two were basically the only source one could go to for local news. But, of course, that's not true any more (at all). Instead, you've got local media that is struggling, and perhaps it does make sense for them to not be forced into only playing in a single medium. So, for years the FCC has tried to loosen media ownership rules
, leading to complaints from people who still don't seem to recognize that the internet is a pretty big competitor these days with the old media companies. In 2007, the FCC came up with a compromise
that very marginally loosened media ownership rules: basically, in just the top 20 media markets, a newspaper could merge with a single radio or TV station but not
if that TV station was one of the top 4 in the market. In other words, there was no way this minor loosening of the rules was going to lead to some feared situation of one company dominating the media landscape.
But, still, lots of people protested that suddenly all our news was going to come from Rupert Murdoch, and politicians looked to invalidate the rule
while lawsuits were filed. A judge eventually banned putting the rules into effect, but an appeals court has now temporarily lifted the ban
. While some are still complaining about this, the impact is likely to be negligible at best. As Editor & Publisher explains:
It's safe to say that Tuesday's Third Circuit action -- which could prove only a temporary lifting of the ban -- won't set off any buying binge among newspapers.
For one thing, nobody is going to lend newspapers money to buy media these days. That lesson's been learned until the next bubble comes around. And even if a newspaper had the jack to swing a deal, there's little point in spending it on the fourth-place -- or worse -- broadcast outlet in town.