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News Corp becomes biggest TV owner

Jul 26, 2001 | 11:38am EDT

The Federal Communications Commission on Wednesday approved News Corp's acquisition of 10 Chris-Craft stations after deciding not to immediately force the Rupert Murdoch-owned company to sell off some of its stations to comply with rules allowing a broadcaster to reach no more than 35 percent of American TV viewers. The FCC's vote was split on party lines, with the two Democratic commissioners issuing stinging rebukes. "This decision also shows the lengths the commission will go to avoid standing in the way of media mergers," commented Commissioner Gloria Tristani. But Republican FCC Chairman Michael Powell responded that Tristani's comments were "not only offensive but absurd." He maintained that the FCC decision merely allowed News Corp additional time to sell off stations to comply with the 35-percent limit. "I find it fantastic that the minority would characterize these divestiture periods as deviations from our rules," he said. Nevertheless, Democratic commissioner Michael Copps responded that the periods "appear to be based on the anticipation that ... the rules may be relaxed such that compliance need never occur."

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