Newspaper Association of America testifies that the FCC's Cross-ownership Ban Reduces Investment in Local Journalism
Newspaper / Broadcast cross-owned properties have led to public service journalism, including reporting on the mismanagement at the Department of Veteran Affairs
Director of Communications
June 11, 2014
Arlington, Va. – Today, Newspaper Association of America senior vice president of public policy, Paul Boyle, testified against the Federal Communications Commission's newspaper/broadcast cross-ownership ban during a U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing. In his testimony, Boyle explained that the ban, first enacted in 1975 to prevent a single entity from being the local source of news, is outdated in today's multimedia world.
"The cross-ownership ban reduces the number of potential buyers from investing in a newspaper and the community it serves, including a local broadcaster with deep resources and a shared value in journalism," said Boyle.
In nearly 20 years, there have been eight different proceedings looking into the validity of the FCC’s 1975 cross-ownership ban.
"Remarkably, none of these proceedings has resulted in any changes in the rule, creating a seemingly endless cycle of regulatory uncertainty for newspapers and broadcasters," said Boyle.
Newspapers are adapting to economic challenges by innovating and diversifying their revenue streams in support of original reporting in the communities they serve.
"The government should encourage this innovation, but at the very least, not stand in the way," said Boyle. "This nearly 40-year-old newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership ban stifles innovation by categorically prohibiting an ownership structure that would bring new capital to local journalism."
The handful of markets where a single entity has cross-media ownership due to grandfathered arrangements has led to exceptional public service journalism. Two of the primary news sources that broke the Department of Veteran Affairs mismanagement scandal were newspaper/television combinations. In Phoenix, the Arizona Republic and KPNX-TV reported the initial revelations of deaths from delays following a long-term investigation. In Dayton, the Dayton Daily News and WHIO-TV discovered that the VA had paid more than $36 million to settle claims from treatment delays.
"The VA revelations are not anomalies," said Boyle. "According to FCC-commissioned research, a cross-owned television station produces 50 percent more local news, devotes 40 percent more time to candidates’ speeches and comments, and airs 30 percent more coverage of state and local political candidates."
Click here to read the full testimony.
NAA is a nonprofit organization representing nearly 2,000 newspapers and their multiplatform businesses in the United States and Canada. NAA members include daily newspapers, as well as nondailies, other print publications and online products. Headquartered near Washington, D.C., in Arlington, Va., the association focuses on the major issues that affect today's newspaper industry: public policy/legal matters, advertising revenue growth and audience development across the medium's broad portfolio of products and digital platforms. Information about NAA and the industry also may be found at www.naa.org.