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Americans Oppose Media Market Concentration: Survey

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WASHINGTON-- More than half of Americans surveyed said it should be illegal for a company to own both a newspaper and a television station in the same market, a coalition of consumer and telecommunications advocacy groups said on Wednesday.

The Media and Democracy Coalition released its survey the same day the Federal Communications Commission was due to hold a public meeting on media ownership. FCC Chairman Kevin Martin wants the agency to decide by December 18 on whether to ease limits on how many media outlets a company may own in one market.

Longstanding FCC rules restrict cross-ownership and ban ownership of a newspaper and a TV or radio station in the same market without an FCC waiver.

The survey found 57 percent of respondents favored laws against a company owning a paper and TV station in the same market. That level of support was roughly the same among the political liberals, moderates and conservatives surveyed.

"The results of this poll should come as no surprise to the FCC, since thousands have vocalized their opposition to weaker media ownership rules at public hearings held recently," said Beth McConnell, director of the coalition. "The FCC should listen to the public and reject rule changes that would concentrate ownership even further."

The survey also showed 70 percent of respondents described media consolidation as a problem.

The poll of 1,000 American adults was conducted from August 26 to September 3, said the coalition, with members including the Consumers Union, Consumer Federation of America, Media Access Project and Center for Digital Democracy.

In 2003, the FCC tried to lift the common-ownership ban and let companies own more TV stations in a single market. But a federal appeals court sent the agency back to the drawing board when it ruled in 2004 the FCC plan was not adequately justified.

(Reporting by Julie Vorman)

© 2007 Reuters

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