In 1950 80% of Americans read a Newspaper every day. Today that number is below 50%. Since 2001 paid newspaper circulation has fallen 8.4% and paid advertising revenue has fallen 9.4%. Meanwhile, a whopping 48% of Americans say they rely on the internet as their primary news source with only 11% naming radio and 29% naming television.
Last December the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) began to recognize this new reality and voted to liberalize its 33-year-old blanket prohibition on cross-ownership, allowing broadcast licenses to be owned jointly with newspaper licensees. Scared senseless by news that Rupert Murdoch was trying to add Long Island’s Newsday to his media empire, liberals in Congress are now moving to overturn the FCC’s decision. Heritage scholar James Gattuso comments:
In this dynamic and competitive media landscape, a ban on cross-ownership simply makes no sense. It is unnecessary and downright harmful to consumers—and even detrimental to competition. Moreover, like the FCC’s long-repealed Fairness Doctrine, such rules can become a tool for ideologically motivated interference in media content.
The FCC was right to liberalize its cross-ownership rule. It would have been even better if the agency had repealed it altogether.