WASHINGTON - The Federal Communications Commission overturned a 32-year-old ban by voting yesterday to let broadcasters in the nation's 20 largest media markets also own a newspaper.

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin was joined by his two Republican colleagues in voting 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 vote.

Martin said his proposal represented "a relatively minor loosening" of the cross-ownership rule. He noted concern for the steady decline in revenue for newspaper companies, and said his proposal "strikes a balance" between the realities of the changing media marketplace and the preservation of diversity and competition in broadcasting.

Democrats Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein bitterly opposed Martin's media-ownership rule.

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Airwaves and Paper

The FCC also lifted the ban on owning a newspaper and TV or radio station in the same city. C2.