One of the Federal Communications Commission’s longest-lasting headaches grows out of its regulation of television station ownership. Three times since the Telecommunications Act was passed in 1996, the FCC has tried to write new rules, and three times it has failed. Now the agency has launched its fourth rulemaking to look at the current limits on owning broadcast stations.

At base, the problem is that the FCC is trying to accommodate traditional concerns about TV competition and viewpoint diversity in the midst of a rapidly evolving multimedia marketplace. Of particular concern is the fate of TV stations in smaller markets.

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