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FCC Proposes ‘Slight Modification’ to Rules to Help Struggling Newspapers

Most of the existing rules that prevent cross ownership would remain

FCC chairman Tom Wheeler proposed retaining most rules limiting cross ownership of newspapers, radio and TV stations in the same market on Monday. He hopes a few tweaks can help make the rule coincide with the modern media landscape.

The proposal includes keeping the existing rules barring companies, in most scenarios, from owning newspapers and a TV or radio stations in the same market with “slight modification,” according Reuters.

The slight modifications are designed to help failed or failing newspapers or stations.

The potential changes were explained in a summary of a proposal to fellow commissioners, which was obtained by Reuters. The proposal also leaves in place rules barring mergers among any of the top four national television broadcast networks — ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox.

Newspaper ad revenue has declined recently, leading to a call for changes to the cross-ownership ban. The Newspaper Association of America told Congress in 2014 that cross-ownership allows journalists at different news organizations to work together.

Back in 1975, the FCC put rules in place to guard against media monopolies. The FCC is supposed to review its cross-ownership rules every four years, but the last time it completed a review was 2006.