WASHINGTON -- On Wednesday evening, Free Press, along with Common Cause, the Institute for Public Representation, the National Hispanic Media Coalition, the Office of Communication of the United Church of Christ Inc., NABET-CWA and The Newspaper Guild-CWA, filed a petition at the Federal Communications Commission to deny Gannett’s acquisition of TV-station owner Belo.
Gannett’s acquisition of several of Belo’s television stations — in cities including Louisville, Ky.; Phoenix; Portland; Ore.; and St. Louis — would violate the FCC’s newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership rule or the television duopoly rule. To circumvent those rules, Gannett has indicated it would operate the stations under Shared Services Agreements, transferring stations in name only to a third party that would allow Gannett to continue to run them. These covert consolidation arrangements would allow Gannett to control multiple media outlets in the same market, resulting in job losses, less diversity on the airwaves and diminished competition.
Free Press President and CEO Craig Aaron made the following statement:
"The FCC shouldn’t let Gannett break the rules. Media consolidation results in fewer journalists in the newsroom and fewer opinions on the airwaves. Concentrating media outlets in the hands of just a few companies benefits only the companies themselves.
“The deal would clearly violate the Commission’s cross-ownership bans, with covert consolidation contracts working to combine newsrooms. We need the FCC to block this transaction to protect and promote local journalism.”
To read the full petition to deny, go to: http://www.freepress.net/sites/default/files/resources/petition_to_deny_gannett_belo.pdf.