Media Giants Covertly Skirt FCC Oversight to Buy Up Local TV Stations Across U.S.

Monday, October 28, 2013

A key responsibility of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is to keep large media companies from acquiring too many local television stations in one market. But conglomerates have been doing just this through some legal trickery that the FCC has failed to address, according to a new report from Free Press, a public interest group.


“TV consolidation is out of control, and communities are paying the price,” S. Derek Turner, who authored the report, said in a statement. “Companies are swallowing up stations at an alarming rate, often through deals that violate the law.”


The report cites corporations like Sinclair Broadcast Group, Gannett, Media General, Nexstar and the Tribune Company that have created shell companies to buy up local stations and avoid federal limits on such purchases.


“The FCC has turned a blind eye as communities have suffered the impact of these shady deals,” the Free Press’ Josh Stearns wrote. “In many markets, one company controls up to four TV stations—and even the local paper.”


The implications of this media consolidation are serious, according to Stearns, considering that 71% of Americans watch local TV news.


It has meant a “gutting of local news” as conglomerates close down newsrooms and resort to broadcasting the same stories on multiple channels.


News coverage of local governments suffer as a result, with “fewer diverse perspectives on the issues that matter to people,” Stearns says.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Media Giants Are Devouring Local TV (by Josh Stearns, Free Press)

Cease to Resist: How the FCC’s Failure to Enforce Its Rules Created a New Wave of Media Consolidation (by S. Derek Turner, Free Press) (pdf)

FCC Prepares to Open Top 20 Media Markets to Cross-Ownership of TV, Newspapers and Radio (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov) 

Battered Tribune Can Exit Bankruptcy, but More Bludgeoning Looms (by Ken Broder, AllGov California)       


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