One Hour Left To Phone Congress to Restore Some Media Ownership Limits

Just received this from Robert McChesney:

Today is a critical moment in the effort to roll back the FCC media ownership rules. Your voice is needed.

This afternoon, the House of Representatives will vote on H.R. 2799 to roll back one of the three ownership rules – the national television cap. Even if it passes, it is the rule with the least impact on media diversity. In short, it is not enough.

Congressmen Hinchey and Price will introduce an amendment to restore the crucial newspaper/broadcast cross-ownership ban. It is the most important ownership rule, and we need the phones to ring off the hook. Now.

Please visit and use the information there to call your Representative. Ask him/her to support the Hinchey/Price amendment to HR 2799 to restore the Newspaper/Broadcast cross-ownership ban.

For more information on the legislation and the issue, go to For more information about the amendment and its importance, read on.

Background: Cross-ownership

When the cross-ownership rule was originally adopted by the FCC in 1975, the Commission concluded that it is “unrealistic to expect true diversity from a commonly owned station-newspaper combination.” This is as true today as it was over two decades ago. Back then, three-quarters of all dailies were owned by local families. Today, most cities and towns have only one newspaper and most of the nation’s 1,500 dailies are owned by national chains. Gannett now owns one out of every seven newspapers sold in the U.S. Along with Knight Ridder and the Tribune Co. they account for one-quarter of all daily newspaper circulation. In local broadcasting, behind today’s seeming variety of television choices are in reality five behemoths: Disney (which owns ABC), Viacom (CBS and UPN), AOL-Time Warner (the WB), News Corporation (Fox), and General Electric (NBC).

The elimination of the cross-ownership ban will over time likely lead to a reduction from four (one paper, three TV) to three in the number of separately-owned local news media outlets in most media markets. Co-owned newspaper and broadcast stations will merge news operations — as they have where these combinations already operate under FCC waivers or grandfather arrangements — thus eliminating a separate, distinct, and independent voice. The result: According to The Project for Excellence in Journalism growing consolidation in the news business has led to a serious decline in the quality and quantity of local news as distant corporate media executives demand cuts in news budgets to boost profits.

Restoration of the cross-ownership rule is vital to preserving what remains of independent, local voices in news and information reporting. Should economic circumstances require it, the previous cross-ownership rule had allowed the FCC to grant waivers based on local market conditions. This was an appropriate mechanism to deal with markets in which cross-ownership might serve the public interest by saving a failing newspaper or broadcast station.

In the news and information business, competition and diversity help preserve localism in news coverage, enhance the quality and comprehensiveness of news content, assure a multiplicity of voices from a variety of independent sources and reduce the risk that news will be censored or slanted by a few controlling interests. In the entertainment sector, they stimulate the kinds of creativity and variety in programming that the American public has come to expect but that has significantly diminished since the FCC repealed the Financial Interest and Syndication Rule in 1993.

In our democratic society, media ownership matters. It matters because ultimately it is the deciding factor that determines what your constituents have access to in news, entertainment and information. Most importantly, it matters to our democracy because an informed public is the bedrock of our free and open society.

For more information on media reform and how to get involved, go to

Please pass this message along to everyone who may be concerned.






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