L A Times Downplays FCC Hurdles For Dow Jones Deal

The Los Angeles Times published an article yesterday titled, “Dow Jones deal prompts call to broaden cross-ownership ban,” that included this passage:

“Federal rules try to limit media power by prohibiting a company from owning a newspaper and a TV station in the same city.

Billionaire Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. faces no such hurdle in its pending deal to acquire Dow Jones & Co. and with it the country’s second-largest paper, the Wall Street Journal…”

I think it may be something of an overstatement to say that there are no regulatory hurdles. I wonder if the authors were aware of the following:

  • Mr. Murdoch recently told Time Magazine that he would “love to challenge” the New York Times with the Wall Street Journal.
  • Ken Chandler, a former Murdoch protege who once ran the New York Post, told the Boston Herald that Murdoch is, “looking at taking on The New York Times. I think (Murdoch) is going to try to do to The New York Times what his Fox News did to CNN.”
  • The Guardian reported that, “Mr Murdoch is planning to beef up the Wall Street Journal’s political and news reporting so it can compete with the New York Times…”
  • FCC Commissioner Michael Copps recently said, “It’s interesting to hear the ‘experts’ claim the transaction faces no regulatory hurdles. Not so fast! This deal means more media consolidation and fewer independent voices, and it specifically impacts the local market in New York City.”

With Murdoch already owning major newspapers and broadcasters in New York, and the evidence of his own statements and other reporting confirming his intention to compete locally in the city, it seems to me that there is good cause for the FCC to investigate the acquisition. In any case, there appears to be no cause to flatly declare that the deal faces “no such hurdles,” as reported in the L.A. Times (which itself faces regulatory hurdles with its parent, the Tribune Company, owning both the paper and KTLA TV).