As the owner of the Arizona Republic and KPNX-TV (Channel 12), the Gannett Corp. has a lot at stake in a proposed rule change before the Federal Communications Commission.
The change would allow media companies to own both broadcast stations and newspapers in the same market. If it does not occur, Gannett would have to divest itself of either the television station or the Phoenix newspaper in 2005 when KPNX-TV's license comes up for review.
Industry experts expect the commission to change the rule in June, but one FCC commissioner isn't so sure that's a good idea.
Commissioner Michael Copps has been holding forums around the country to gather evidence on how the rule change might affect local media markets. (The full commission held hearings on the rule change within the Beltway for a month. As you might expect the D.C.-centered hearings attracted lobbyists, not ordinary people from places like Arizona.)
Copps held his Arizona forum in the studios of KAET-TV. The forum was hosted by the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, named after the man once called the most trusted newsman in America. Well over 100 people attended — so many that time ran out before several who stood in line to comment could do so.
A report on the forum appeared in the Business Section of Wednesday's Tribune. No story appeared in the Arizona Republic that we could find.
Supporters of the rule change say that the integrity of news coverage would not be harmed by the rule change. Some even suggest the combined resources of a broadcast station and a newspaper would lead to better coverage.
What does the absence of forum coverage in the Arizona Republic tell you?