Old Media Wants Its Piece of the Pie

Traditional media companies, such as the Tribune Co., NBC Universal, and CBS told the FCC yesterday that its restrictions on who can own what media property where have to be eased if newspapers and broadcast outlets are to survive in the face of cable and Internet competition.

In its filing to the FCC, CBS wrote:

“Four years ago, when the FCC last reviewed its broadcast-ownership rules, the domain name had not even been registered, the first Windows version of the audio iPod was just rolling out, Google was only a search engine, cable companies sold primarily video packages, and telephone companies sold primarily voice service. And NBC was the most popular broadcast network thanks to its high-rated sitcom ‘Friends’ airing in the first hour of primetime.”

“Today, just four years later, Google is preparing to acquire 18-month-old video-sharing Web site YouTube for more than $1.65 billion (which will increase Google’s market capitalization by less than 2%), Apple has had its fifth-generation video iPod on the market for more than a year, and cable and telephone companies now sell packages of video, voice, broadband and wireless services. Cell phones double as TV receivers for multichannel video services operated by new entrants such as Qualcomm using broadcast-type technology on spectrum allotted to broadcasters. And NBC announced last week that it was making drastic cuts in its television operations, including phasing out costly scripted dramas and comedies during the first hour of primetime.”

In contest, a coalition of consumer-interest groups submitted more than 800 pages of comments backing up their position, including a set of new studies that claim easing the rules would allow a handful of people to dominate news coverage in communities nationwide.