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Released May 30, 2000


(MM Docket No. 98-35)

In the Telecommunications Act of 1996, Congress directed the FCC to evaluate its ownership rules every two years. In this first review, we developed a comprehensive record and undertook a careful review of these vitally important rules, as required by Congress.

In the course of this review, we recognized three critical facts. First, the majority of Americans still get most of their news and public affairs information from broadcast stations, and, in a participatory democracy like ours, it is vitally important that we encourage the widest possible dissemination of this information from diverse and antagonistic sources. Our structural ownership restrictions seek to promote this First Amendment principle.

Second, the media marketplace has become increasingly dynamic and competitive, with an expanding number of information outlets and media platforms (i.e., the internet and satellite) and more Americans than ever before are using these options.

Finally, over the last 18 months, the FCC has provided significant regulatory relief to the broadcast industry and the industry is still in the process of responding to this new regulatory environment. Although the marketplace is still in flux, we do know that the regulatory changes have allowed broadcasters in large markets to respond to competitive dynamics, without sacrificing our long-cherished diversity and competition principles.

The Report we issue today again balances the public interest in diversity of ownership with the demands of a changing marketplace and the broadcast industries' need to realize economic efficiencies and remain competitive. The proposed modifications to the dual network and newspaper/broadcast cross-ownership rules, and the technical changes to our radio market definition policies are careful and deliberate, but forwardlooking.

The dual network rule is fundamentally about promoting viewpoint diversity and it should not be eliminated as it applies to the four major networks. However, I am persuaded that there may be powerful arguments for modifying the rule to allow common ownership of an emerging and established network. For that reason, a Notice that examines the diversity costs and efficiency benefits of modifying the rule in this way is appropriate.

I also continue to believe that the newspaper/broadcast cross-ownership rule well serves our public interest goals. However, there may be certain circumstances in which, given the specifics of the market and of the newspaper and broadcast outlet involved, sufficient diversity and competition would remain even if a newspaper and broadcast station were commonly owned. For example, a combination between a single radio station in a large market and a small, suburban newspaper might raise fewer concerns than other potential combinations.

I look forward to a robust debate on these proposed modifications and the challenge of balancing our competing public interest goals.

- FCC -