Will O.J. Fallout Affect Cross-media Ownership Rules?

Fox's O.J. Debacle Could Give FCC Ammunition

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Even though Fox Broadcasting's O.J. special was canceled, it still may have done lasting harm to the broadcast industry.
O.J. Simpson
O.J. Simpson Credit: Fox

The backlash comes at a sensitive time for broadcasters, which have been battling the belief that cross-media ownership gives them too much power -- and some fear the incident gives ammunition to their foes. The Federal Communications Commission is reconsidering rules that determine whether media companies can own more than two TV stations in a market, as well as whether those that own radio stations and newspapers should also be allowed to own TV stations.

News Corp.'s Fox is at the forefront of a broadcast-network-TV push to be allowed to buy more of its affiliate stations.

"Think about how much O.J. they could have crammed in if they owned three TV stations, eight radio stations and the local paper in your town," said Craig Aaron, communications director for Free Press, a group campaigning against loosening of the rules. "It certainly doesn't help Big Media's case for throwing out the rules."

"Technically it doesn't seem like it's in violation of the rules," said Mike Angelos, a spokesman for Pappas Broadcasting, which owns four Fox affiliates and refused to air the show. "I'm hoping it will cause the industry to take a look inward and carefully consider what we're putting on the air. ... That can only be a good thing."

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Ira Teinowitz contributed to this report.
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