WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Federal Communications Commission voted Tuesday to overturn a 32-year-old ban and allow broadcasters in the nation's 20 largest media markets to also own a newspaper.
FCC Chairman Kevin Martin was joined by his two Republican colleagues in favor of the proposal, while the commission's two Democrats voted against it.
Martin pushed the vote through despite intense pressure from House and Senate members on Capitol Hill to delay it. The chairman, however, has the support of the White House, which has pledged to turn back any congressional action that seeks to undo the agency vote.
At Tuesday's meeting, the chairman described the media ownership proceeding as ``the most contentious and divisive issue'' to come before him.
That proved true as the two Democrats in the commission blasted the proposal in unusually strong language for the normally sedate agency.
Martin, noting the steady decline in revenue for newspapers, said his proposal ``strikes a balance'' between the changing media marketplace and the need to protect diversity and competition.
The Democrats blasted the chairman for making changes to the proposal ``in the dead of night'' and just before the meeting that created new ownership loopholes instead of closing them, as he pledged during a recent hearing on Capitol Hill.
``Anybody who thinks our processes are open, thoughtful or deliberative should think twice in light of these nocturnal escapades,'' said Democrat Jonathan Adelstein.
The Democrat said Martin's proposal ``will allow for waivers for six new newspaper-broadcast combinations and 36 grandfathered stations.''