A Case For A Rule Elimination


(By Robert Lee) What do these prominent newspapers – Los Angeles Herald Examiner, Rocky Mountain News, The Cincinnati Post, The Pittsburgh Press, Houston Post and many others – have in common? They no longer exist, in any form. Their respective publishers printed their last editions and went completely out of business.

And, what about the following major newspapers: Baltimore Sun, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Minneapolis Star Tribune, The Detroit News and numerous others? They now publish in hybrid form, successfully evolving from print-only to also including online versions.

The point becomes clear. If the local newspapers, in which broadcasters are required by the FCC to publicize ownership, application, and certain other important changes, are no longer around, or have evolved into substantial online enterprises, shouldn’t broadcast radio and television stations and companies also be allowed to transition to online-only announcements on their own websites, along with on-air announcements? Further to the point, the FCC itself now importantly uses what medium to announce or publicize its rules, regulations, initiatives, meeting agendas, and schedules, and so on? Its website.

Even when local newspapers were printed, pre-Internet era, how many readers actively and regularly searched through the classified ads looking for FCC-mandated announcements by broadcast stations? Anecdotally speaking, I would submit that very few newspaper readers did so. I would further assert that, even if the FCC allows broadcasters to use only their own websites to publish such announcements, the number of local citizens who will seek out such information will be practically non-existent. Perhaps, then, a certain number of on-air announcements on the affected radio or television station would constitute sufficient public notice.

Chairman Pai, the Commissioners and staff are to be highly commended for their ongoing efforts to bring agency mandates and regulation, and broadcast industry practices and standards, into more practical and modern-day application and relevance. Removing the newspaper notice requirement is a welcome and obvious revision of Commission rules.

Robert Lee is the owner and President of QXZ MediaWorks LLC in Waco, Texas.

Lee also submitted this column as a comment to the FCC.


  1. I feel like commending Pai, the Commissioners and staff for doing this is like commending a three year-old for going potty on the toilet. Sure, it is great, but it is pretty much BASIC LIFE 101 and the fact that this is an actual hurdle shows how out-of-touch and bureaucratic the FCC is in this day and age.

    Meanwhile, they are completely selling out the public and are able to move quickly to remove things like “requiring companies who profit off of the public-owned airwaves to close their offices in the city of license” or to allow companies to own mass percentages of broadcast and media companies in a single market, effectively controlling a large portion of the media input for many locations, and drastically decreasing options for employees to seek alternative employment in radio.

    The sad reality, is that the FCC is bought and paid for by the radio companies and the public is the loser. No longer do many radio stations have local talent on the radio, as companies establish hubs in a half-dozen major markets and distribute programming from those hubs to the local communities they are supposed to SERVE.

    And even sadder, radio was a VERY profitable industry until the ultra-rich investors came in and decided to overpay for the properties, rape the employees and run radio on automation. So now, instead of the rich owners being rich, and the employees supporting families, we have rich owners who are at risk of losing their companies and most of their employees working in other industries now because in the effort to be as greedy as possible, they were eliminated. Meanwhile the public has lost their airwaves and they get syndication and nationally programmed products instead of local because of the incompetence, greed and sleaze that was overlooked, and even supported, by the FCC.

    But at least they are thinking about removing the requirement to post notices in the newspapers – so GOOD JOB Commissioner Pai! Thanks!

  2. Note to Stanford:
    The only advantage that print has going for it – and I admit it’s one that will gain very little traction – is that print is, primarily, a dominant hemisphere process which gets better understanding from and more retention by the readers.
    Electronic sources – all of them, including ours – are the epitome of distorting and mind-sucking media.
    Processed primarily by listeners’ and viewers’ subdominant hemispheres, emotions are triggered up the ying yang, to use a technical term.
    Understanding and retention get thrown into the back seat with the noisy kids and the dog.

  3. Anyone remember the WHDH-TV/Boston Herald-Traveler case from the 1970s? When the FCC yanked the WHDH-TV license because of “concentration of media” (the combo also included WHDH-FM, an unprofitable station and WHDH-AM, which turned a profit), the Herald-Traveler folded within six months, eliminating an editorial foil to the Boston Globe and the Record-American. It was the only conservative paper in Boston.
    Perhaps the Commission should allow newspaper-broadcast crossownerships, at least on a case-by-case basis and instead break up the huge broadcast groups that own hundreds of stations across the country.

    • FYI the FCC recently proposed eliminating the cross-ownership rule, but a judge struck it down, and it’s been remanded back to the FCC for more study. The FCC can’t break up broadcast groups. That would require Congressional legislation. It’s not likely to happen.

  4. And this article also makes the point that allowing newspaper-broadcast cross ownership is more important now for the survival of newspapers.


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