As predicted [WAMN: 23-Jul-01], the Federal Communications Commission yesterday gave its approval to NewsCorp’s purchase of ten TV stations from Chris-Craft Industries.

Following the deal, NewsCorp’s Fox Television will own stations reaching 41% of TV viewers – ahead of the FCC’s 35% limit. However, this threshold is under review by federal courts, and the FCC will not force the issue until the legal wrangling has finished.

However, NewsCorp will have to sell off one of the two New York TV stations it will own after the deal, though it will have two years to find a buyer. Under FCC regulations, media groups cannot own a newspaper and TV station in the same market. NewsCorp was previously granted a waiver so that it could possess both the New York Post and one TV station in the area, but the acquisition of a second broadcaster was deemed too much.

As expected, the decision split the Commission’s members along party lines (3–2 in favour of the Republicans), with Democrat members denouncing the deal. “Preserving and promoting a diverse media is essential to our democracy,” said Democrat commissioner Gloria Tristani. “Today’s decision further diminishes the marketplace of ideas.”

News source: Financial Times