GOP chairman denounces FCC media rules

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) on Thursday tore into the Federal Communications Commission’s updated media ownership rules.

{mosads}The FCC’s rules, released Wednesday, dictate that entities cannot own both a newspaper and broadcast station in the same market. The requirement isn’t new, but the FCC decided this month to keep the regulation in place after a review. 

In a statement, Goodlatte said the FCC had “overreacted” and that it was “likely to harm the objectives of smaller media outlets eager to compete.”

“Today, the FCC continues its recent tradition of advancing unnecessary and burdensome regulations on a partisan basis while ignoring new technologies and market realities, with the likely outcome of harming competition,” he said.

The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) also noted its disappointment on the ruling in a letter to the FCC, and the group later sent a Freedom of Information Act request to the agency for documents regarding the decision.

The NAB characterized the FCC’s decision as a “ ‘head in the sand’ approach” to the media marketplace.

According to the FCC’s release, the decision to maintain most of the existing rules came down to a 3-2 vote on Aug. 10.

Commissioner Mignon L. Clyburn defended the decision in a statement.

“We are on the cusp of seeing major changes to the television landscape,” she said. “There will be fewer broadcast television stations on the air post-auction. Relaxing the Commission’s media ownership rules at this time, will neither increase the number of diverse stations nor will it create additional local voices.”

Clyburn also critiqued the demographics of broadcast ownership.

“What is extremely troubling to me is that despite comprising nearly 13 percent of the U.S. population, African Americans held a majority interest in just nine of the nearly 1,400 full power commercial television stations.”

Commissioner Ajit Pai gave the dissenting statement. Pai highlighted the significant changes that have taken place in media since the rules were drafted in 1975 and expressed his disappointment that the rules have not been altered to keep up with the times.

“The changes to the media marketplace since the FCC adopted the Newspaper-Broadcast CrossOwnership Rule in 1975 have been revolutionary,” Pai said. “Yet, instead of repealing the Newspaper-Broadcast Cross-Ownership Rule to account for the massive changes in how Americans receive news and information, we cling to it.”

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