The deal will give News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch and his Fox Television Holdings two TV stations in Los Angeles, New York, Phoenix and Salt Lake City, though one of the Salt Lake City stations will have to be sold.
Even with the sale of the Salt Lake station, the $4.4 billion merger will leave Fox with stations that reach nearly 41% of the American public -- well in excess of the 35% cap that limits the size and scope of media companies. That rule is being challenged in court.
Fox may yet have to meet the 35% cap, but the commission gave the company at least a year to do so. The FCC also said it wouldn't require any further sales until the court case over the ownership limit is resolved. The commission also said Fox would have to sell one of the newly acquired Chris-Craft stations, WWOR-TV, or the New York Post within two years if cross-ownership or the waiver rules aren't changed by then.
The 3 to 2 vote followed party lines, drawing heated arguments from the two Democratic commissioners, Michael J. Copps and Gloria Tristani. Ms Tristani said the acquisition "violates the Communications Act and raises serious concerns regarding the ongoing concentration in the ownership of television stations and other media." She also said it reduces diversity and "diminishes the marketplace of ideas." -- Ira Teinowitz
Copyright July 2001, Crain Communications Inc.