The FCC is “considering” changing broadcast ownership rules. In addition to covering how many radio and TV stations a company can own in a particular market or nationwide, these rules currently limit ownership of broadcast licenses and newpapers in the same city to a few grandfathered cases.
This is already a done deal (after decent interval of sham public comment). Newspaper publishers would love to buy broadcast licenses in their home markets, but are more likely to be targets of acquisition by broadcast companies with acquisition-oriented cultures.s
The resulting companies will have to pay huge amounts for newspapers, which have lots of capital and vast cash flows. The resulting “synergies” will have to be significant to justify the prices paid for these slow-growing and potentially-troubled enterprises.
After the inevitable advertising price hike, about the only synergies left are (a) cutting “unnecessary” newsgathering expenses (b) merging news operations and (c) using the newspaper to promote the broadcast properties. Remember, big radio companies have already made a core competence of presenting canned content as a local product and ruthlessly (perhaps illegally) using their dominant positions to muscle advertisers and listeners.
UPDATE: Bill Densmore posted an excellent report on this and other issues from a family newspaper conference that was happening as this announcement was made.