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FCC Says Ownership Rules Should Not Be Changed


In a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Report and Order (NPRM) issued Wednesday, the FCC has tentatively found that based on the 2010 Quadrennial Review record, current local radio ownership rules remain necessary in the public interest and should be retained without modification. The Commission believes that the rules are necessary to "promote competition."

In addition, the agency said that current radio ownership limits promote viewpoint diversity "by ensuring a sufficient number of independent radio voices and by preserving a market structure that facilitates and encourages new entry into the local media market." Similarly, the FCC tentatively found that a competitive local radio market helps to promote localism, as a competitive marketplace will lead to the selection of programming that is responsive to the needs and interests of the local community.

The Commission also tentatively found that the local radio ownership rule is consistent with its goal of promoting minority and female ownership of broadcast stations. It also believes that these benefits outweigh any burdens that may result from our proposal to retain the rule without modification. The Commission is now seeking comment on these tentative conclusions.

In accordance with these tentative conclusions, The FCC proposes that an entity may continue to own: (1) up to eight commercial radio stations in radio markets with 45 or more radio stations, no more than five of which can be in the same service (AM or FM). (2) Up to seven commercial radio stations in radio markets with 30-44 radio stations, no more than four of which can be in the same service (AM or FM). (3) Up to six commercial radio stations in radio markets with 15-29 radio stations, no more than four of which can be in the same service (AM or FM). And (4) up to five commercial radio stations in radio markets with 14 or fewer radio stations, no more than three of which can be in the same service (AM or FM), provided that an entity may not own more than 50 percent of the stations in such a market.

In the NPRM, the Commission tentatively concluded that the relevant market for review of the local radio ownership rule is the radio listening market and that it is not appropriate, at this time, to expand that market to include non-broadcast sources of audio programming. Based on its review of the 2010 Quadrennial Review record, the agency believed this approach is appropriate, and it's seekinh comment on whether it should maintain this market definition.

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