New FCC Commissioner expresses interest in weakening ownership rules


The newest Republican member of the FCC, Robert McDowell, said at a news conference on Tuesday that he is open to considering changing media ownership rules individually rather than as one big package. McDowell explained that, "instead of doing this as an omnibus, one big kidney stone to pass, let's try to break it into more manageable, bite-sized, pieces," according to Reuters. McDowell also noted that he was only saying he is open to this option, not that it is definitely going to happen.

Some of the ownership restrictions that the FCC is examining include the ban preventing a company from owning a newspaper and television or radio station in the same market, limits on how many television and radio stations one company can own in a market, and whether one company should be permitted to own two of the four biggest television broadcast networks. FCC Chairman Kevin Martin has long favored letting media companies own more outlets in a single market and has previously advocated considering it separately. The two Democratic commissioners at the FCC have opposed separation.

Also at the press conference, McDowell said that he feels his job is to "trust free markets and free people to make their own decisions," saying that the government should only intervene to cure market failures, according to Reuters. He reiterated several times that he believes the FCC's role is to promote freedom and let competition flourish.

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