US watchdog rejects overseas ownership of broadcast media

New proposals from the US media watchdog The Federal Communications Commission will not consider relaxing rules on foreign ownership of US TV networks.

The FCC chairman, Michael Powell, the son of the US secretary of state, Colin Powell, and other members of the five-strong commission are, however, in favour of allowing individual US companies to hold bigger shares of local and national media markets.

One proposal would allow for a single television company to own TV stations that reach 45 per cent of US households, instead of the current 35 per cent.

The FCC will vote on the proposals on 2 June. It will also consider whether to relax cross-ownership rules covering radio, television and newspaper businesses in large and mid-sized markets. One rule prevents TV and radio ownership in the same market. However, the cross-media ownership rules that cover small communities will not be relaxed.

The UK Communications Bill, which is currently going through Parliament, upset some in the media industry, such as Lord Puttnam, because it would allow non-European Union companies to buy a television or radio licence for the first time. Critics argued that the US and other countries should also relax their foreign owner ship rules.