Hearst’s Barrett Offers Small-Market Duopoly Plan

By Andrew Gauthier 


Hearst Television CEO David Barrett urged the FCC to do what it should have done six years ago: adopt new less restrictive local TV ownership rules that would allow common ownership of two or more stations in a market if their combined audience was less than 30 percent and if the combination otherwise passed routine antitrust review.

The simpler 30-percent rule would have several advantages over the current rules, which prohibit combinations of two top-four-rated stations in markets with eight or fewer station owners or “voices.”

First, he said, the new rule would measure audience across broadcast, cable and satellite.

In addition, it would be equally applicable across all markets, large and small; create stability because small changes in audience share would not affect the ownership limit; and give the FCC a “bright line test” that it could apply “more quickly and efficiently.”

Barrett also suggested that it was a modest step. “The proposal would not lead to a wave of local media mergers … and unacceptable market concentration.” More…