Lautenberg urges FCC to reconsider plan to ease media ownership rules

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Genachowski circulated a proposal with his fellow commissioners last month that would relax regulations that prohibit a single company from owning a TV broadcast station and a newspaper in the same market. The order would eliminate bans on newspaper-radio and TV-radio cross-ownership.

The FCC announced last week that it would accept more comments on the proposal, postponing a vote until at least January.

Lautenberg worried that the proposal would allow media moguls like Murdoch to gain further control of news coverage. He explained that New Jersey has to rely on the New York City and Philadelphia media markets and only has one of its own dedicated TV stations,  WWOR-TV, which is owned by News Corp. 

But Lautenberg complained that WWOR-TV has devoted too much attention to New York, and not enough attention to local New Jersey issues.

"Given the localism, diversity, and consolidation issues at hand, I urge the FCC to carefully consider, through a public process, the impact of relaxing cross-ownership rules before it acts," Lautenberg wrote.

Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) also criticized the FCC's proposal at a news conference last week, and 44 House Democrats sent a letter opposing the changes.