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Tribune Co. Wants FCC To Waive Rule

February 19, 1998

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Having lost a court appeal, the Tribune Co. is embarking on a new effort to retain ownership of both a newspaper and a TV station serving South Florida.

Tribune plans to ask the Federal Communications Commission for a temporary waiver from a federal ownership rule so that it can keep both properties, said Shaun Sheehan, Tribune’s vice president in Washington.

As part of a larger media ownership review, the FCC is soon supposed to consider whether the long-standing cross-ownership rule forbidding a company from owning a TV station and a newspaper in the same market is still needed.

Tribune wants FCC permission to keep both properties until the commission decides the fate of the cross-ownership rule.

As it now stands, Tribune is supposed to divest one of the properties by March 22.

Tribune owns the Sun-Sentinel of Fort Lauderdale and WDZL-TV in Miami, one of six TV stations the company acquired from Renaissance Communications Corp. last year. Under FCC rules, the newspaper and WDZL are considered part of the same media market.

A federal appeals court in January upheld a 1997 FCC denying Tribune a permanent waiver of the cross-ownership rule.

In its review, the FCC is to consider whether the TV-newspaper cross-ownership rule and other media limits should be eliminated, changed or kept the same given the competitive state of the media marketplace.

The commission was supposed to begin the broad review, required by a 1996 telecommunications law, at a meeting scheduled for today. But the FCC dropped the item from its meeting agenda late Wednesday. FCC officials said commissioners needed more time to work on it.

The nearly 25-year-old TV-newspaper cross-ownership rule aims to protect diversity of news and information and to prevent excessive media ownership concentration.

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