“At least 300 daily papers have stopped publishing over the past 30 years,” Martin has said. “Their circulation is down, their advertising revenue is shrinking and their stock prices are falling.”

Martin believes relaxing the rule will make failing newspapers more viable by allowing them to share their operational costs with other media platforms.

According to reporter Bill Moyers, the average profit margin for publicly traded newspaper firms last year was around 18 percent.

“That’s higher than the average Fortune 500,” Moyers said. “The claim that newspapers are in dire financial straits depends on your definition of dire.”

There are 5 commissioners on the FCC, 3 Republicans including Martin and 2 Democrats, all appointed by President Bush. Both of Martin’s Democratic colleagues, Jonathan Adelstein and Michael J. Copps, disagree with Martin’s latest move to consolidate media operations.

Both Adelstein and Copps said that recent media
consolidation has resulted in increasing homogenization of entertainment and information, and the exclusion of women and minorities from the airwaves.

Congress also is getting involved. Senator Byron Dorgan and Senator Trent Lott have introduced The Media Ownership Act of 2007, which would delay the FCC vote on Martin’s proposal and require the Commission to examine how local communities have been affected by media consolidation.

Martin has set December 11 as a deadline for public comment on his proposal and the FCC is expected to vote on it a week later. To contact the FCC with your comments visit fcc.gov.