Media consolidation hits full force

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If Congress' 1996 passage of a new telecommunications act set the stage for media consolidation, it was 1999 when consolidation hit full force. In radio, consolidation had already been rampant, but Clear Channel Communications' $23.5 billion deal for AMFM posed the possibility that a single company would own 830 radio stations and 19 TV stations. On the TV side, the Federal Communications Commission's Aug. 5 decision to allow a media company to own two stations in a market if only one is a major network affiliate resulted in Viacom's $36 billion buy of CBS. That deal would give Viacom two stations in six major cities, including Boston and Dallas, as well as both the CBS network and Viacom's cable networks. Both deals attracted critics. Minority groups say the radio deal would make it hard for minority broadcasters to compete and media buyers worry the TV deal would give one company too much power in the marketplace. Perhaps it comes down to whether or not bigger is better.
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