FCC Changes Rules

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Monday the Federal Communications Commission relaxed the rules on media ownership. By a three to two vote the FCC changed a long-standing rule for various media outlets. While big media companies are in favor of the decision it may be the end for small market diversity.

Under the proposed rules a single media company could own enough television stations to reach as much as 45 percent of the U.S. television market. That means a single company could own three TV stations in a large city and two stations in many other markets.

A company can also own a TV station and a newspaper in the same market. A possibility that Rock River Times editor Frank Shier says could be dangerous for weekly and small daily papers. Shier says, "I think this will bring anything but diversity of opinions and rights of individual." Shier also adds that a free paper like the Rock River Times relies heavily on advertising revenue and might not be able to compete if outlets team up.

The FCC media bureau chief says, "Every market is not the same. Not all markets are created equally. So we tried to come up with a flexible program that looks at market size."

The FCC says viewers shouldn't notice any drastic changes, but others disagree saying mergers are likely to happen quickly leaving viewers even more confused. Only congress has the power to amend any of the FCC's rules and some hope that they will hold hearings on this ruling.