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Sunday, November 4, 2007 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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The Democracy Papers

Defy News Corp.

News Corporation's purchase of Dow Jones signals a frightening new phase of media ownership that demands scrutiny.

At least one person in a position to do something about it agrees. Michael Copps of the Federal Communications Commission sent a letter last week to FCC Chairman Kevin Martin asking that the commission take a hard look at the sale of Dow Jones, which includes The Wall Street Journal. Copps says that News Corporation's extensive media holdings should be of concern. He is right. News Corporation's media holdings are too prodigious for a democracy.

Unfortunately, it is not clear whether the FCC can do anything about it. Martin is not likely to try to hold up the deal, and the FCC does not have a nationwide cross-ownership rule that would prohibit a company from simultaneously owning a national newspaper and a national news station.

Just because there is no ban does not mean there should not be one. The American press and media have been condensed into the grip of a handful of companies. Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation already owns everything you watch with the word FOX in the name. He also owns Direct TV, MySpace, TV Guide and HarperCollins Publishing.

The acquisition of Dow Jones will solidify News Corporation as the dominant news voice in New York City, and across the country. Nationally, the Murdoch conglomerate will own the New York-based Wall Street Journal, FOX News, and a soon-to-be-launched financial channel. News Corporation already owns two television stations and a daily newspaper in New York City.

The FCC should listen to Copps. News Corporation, or any company, for that matter, need not have such a dominating media presence. It is time the FCC expanded its local cross-ownership ban nationally to ensure Americans are served by a dispersed, diverse press and media.

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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