Kennedy Sought Ban on Cross-Ownership of Media
Sen. Edward M. Kennedy says he was behind a proposal that could force publisher Rupert Murdoch to choose between owning newspapers or television stations in Boston and New York.
“I think it was the right policy decision . . . a wise one,” Kennedy told the Boston Sunday Herald.
The amendment Kennedy asked for would to bar the Federal Communications Commission from changing its rules on cross-ownership of newspapers and television stations in the same city.
“This is basically putting into law what the FCC has in regulations,” the Massachusetts Democrat told the Herald.
The amendment keeps the FCC from reconsidering its ban on cross-ownership or from extending waivers already granted to Murdoch, who owns the Herald, the New York Post and television stations in Boston and New York, among other cities.
Hollings Took Request
Under the rules, Murdoch has until March 6 to sell or close the New York Post or dispense with WNYW-TV. He has until June 30 to take similar action on the Boston Herald and WFXT-TV.
Kennedy said the request went to Sen. Ernest F. Hollings (D-S.C.), chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, for insertion in a bill that cleared a House-Senate conference committee along with many other items.
The bill passed both chambers last month and was signed by President Reagan just before Christmas.
“The issue is how we’re going to get the maximum amount of information out to the people in ways which will be unfettered,” Kennedy told the Herald.
“General issues involving the FCC have been before the Senate this year on the fairness doctrine and also on the cross-ownership issues,” Kennedy said. “They’re not new. . . . These issues have been before the Congress for 20 years.”
An unnamed spokesman for Murdoch was quoted by the Herald as saying Kennedy “shortcut the inquiry. All the information and data that the industry has submitted to the FCC points to the benefits of cross-ownership.”
The Herald quoted Sen. Alfonse D’Amato, R-N.Y., saying through a spokeswoman, “Whoever undertook this malicious move does discredit to the entire (Senate) and to the process.”
Asked if he was concerned that the amendment could risk the jobs of 650 Herald employees, Kennedy said, “We’re interested in the public policy issues and questions, which I think are very basic and fundamental on this kind of issue.”