This morning, the FCC's three Republicans voted to allow cross-media ownership. What this means is that companies are now permitted to own both newspapers and television stations in the same media market. They are already permitted to own two television stations and any number of radio stations in any given market. The reasoning they gave is that this will allow stations to get financial assistance to compete as advertising and readership quickly migrates to the Internet.
Now, we all know that's a load of bullshit. The REAL reason is that they want to allow large corporations to "buy out" whatever competition still exists for them. I'll give you an example: here in So Cal, when the rule was changed in 2001 to allow a company to own 2 stations, News Corp immediately bought KCOP-13, the prime competitor of their own KTTV-11. KCOP's operating budget was slashed in half, their news was cut to a half-hour, and most of their sitcom reruns disappeared in favor of infomercials. What was once a strong healthy network quickly became a barren wasteland of trash. The same thing happened all over the country, effectively cutting in half the choices for viewers and killing off the market for first-run syndication, as very few stations had enough money left to support such risky ventures.
So you can imagine what will happen if this new ruling survives a court challenge. The Los Angeles Times could potentially be bought and turned into another New York Post. Truly a dark day indeed.