FCC to lift ownership rules?

The head of the Federal Communications Commission has revealed a plan to relax the media ownership rules, including repealing a rule that forbids a company to own both a newspaper and a television or radio station in the same city.

Kevin J. Martin, chairman of the commission, wants to repeal the rule in the next two months — a plan that, if successful, would be a big victory for some media conglomerates.

The proposal appears to have the support of a majority of the five commission members, agency officials said, although it is not clear that Martin would proceed with a sweeping deregulatory approach on a vote of 3 to 2 — something his predecessor tried without success. Martin said he was striving to reach a consensus with his fellow commissioners, both on the schedule and on the underlying rule changes, although he would not say whether he would move the measures forward if he were able to muster only three votes.

Officials said the commission would consider loosening the restrictions on the number of radio and television stations a company could own in the same city. Currently, a company can own two television stations in the larger markets only if at least one is not among the four largest stations and if there are at least eight local stations. The rules also limit the number of radio stations that a company can own to no more than eight in each of the largest markets.

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