Nearly four decades ago, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) feared that dominant newspapers would control all local news in their markets. So the FCC crafted a rule that prohibited investors from owning both a newspaper and a television or radio station in the same city.
That policy, adopted in 1975, seems quaint going into 2013. To put the explosive growth of the Internet in context: In the first six months of this year, Google brought in more advertising revenue than all printed daily and Sunday newspapers and magazines in the United States combined. While online, TV and mobile-app markets are teeming with new players, newspapers can no longer be seen as dominant.
Congress, the FCC and the Federal Trade Commission recently held hearings and workshops about how to support newspaper journalism as they grapple with the seismic changes in the digital marketplace. There is little the government can or should do to help newspapers, but one thing is clear: The FCC’s rule barring broadcast companies from making investments in newspapers hurts the publishing industry and should be repealed.