The foregone conclusion was reached by the foregone margin – the Federal Communications Commission deciding in favor of relaxing the current rules on US media ownership by three votes to two along party political lines.

What had not been expected, however, was the strength of public feeling over the issue with angry protestors inside the FCC building in Washington held at bay by armed police. Led by a female group known as ‘Code Pink’, the protestors began to shout with the aim of disrupting the meeting.

“Mass deregulation of mass communication is the end of democracy,” they chanted, before police cleared them from the building. The demonstration continued outside.

As a sop to opponents of the changes – among them most advertisers and agencies – the FCC retained a ban on mergers among the four largest television networks: ABC, owned by Walt Disney; Viacom’s CBS;NBC , owned by General Electric; and News Corporation’s Fox.

Cynics observe that this apparent concession is entirely cosmetic as no such mergers have been contemplated – or would be allowed under US competition law.

Data sourced from: Times Online (UK); additional content by WARC staff