2 June 2003
Those new FCC rules
The Federal Communications Commission, on the expected 3-2 party-line vote, approved some changes to the ownership caps on Big Media, though some restrictions were retained.
Under previous rules, a single entity could own TV stations reaching 35 percent of the national audience. The cap is now 45 percent.
A single entity may own two TV stations in a market with five to seventeen stations; however, only one of them may be among the four top-rated stations in that market. If a market has 18 stations or more, the limit is raised to three. The station total includes both commercial and noncommercial stations, but does not include LPTV facilities. Under the old rule, the FCC permitted an entity to own two television stations in a market if one of the stations was not one of the top four in the ratings and there were at least eight independently owned and operated commercial or noncommercial stations remaining in the market. (Oklahoma City has 12 TV stations; Sinclair Broadcast Group owns KOKH-TV, a Fox affiliate, which is usually among the top four, and KOCB-TV, an affiliate of The WB, which isn't. No one else owns more than a single station in the area.)
Newspaper crossownership continues to be banned in markets with three or fewer TV stations, but is permitted in markets with nine or more. (OPUBCO may now bid to acquire KWTV from the Griffin family.) In markets with four to eight stations, it depends on how many broadcast stations are already owned by the entity.
Radio limits were not changed, though the FCC will now use Arbitron's market research to determine the number of stations in a market. In markets with 45 or more stations, the limit for a single owner is eight, of which no more than five can be on the same band (3 AM and 5 FM would pass muster; 2 AM and 6 FM would not). In markets with from 30 to 44 stations, the limit is seven, four per band; in markets with 15 to 29 stations, it's six, four per band. In smaller markets, the limit is five, three per band. Again, the station total includes commercial and noncommercial stations, but not low-power stations or translators. Oklahoma City fits the 30-to-44 category; Clear Channel and Citadel each own four FMs (and two AMs), and Citadel programs another FM station via a local marketing agreement, but the LMA doesn't count toward Citadel's total. No other broadcast owner is close to being maxed out.Posted at 4:41 PM to Overmodulation