A Forgotten Anniversary

Mediachannel’s Danny Schechter reminds us that today is the one-year anniversary of the FCC’s decision to further loosen media ownership regulations. He observes that the mainstream media “seems more obsessed with self-censorship than self-regulation” — to whit:

Conservative groups seized that Super Bowl moment to flood Congress with more than 200,000 emails demanding that something be done.

It was pictured at the time as an avalanche of outrage from an angry public. Never mind that more than TEN times as many people wrote to complain about the earlier media concentration giveaway.

I can say for myself that the issue has been on the backburner here on the blog and on the radioshow. That’s mostly because the implementation of the new rules is on hold awaiting an appeals court ruling on challenges brought by Prometheus Radio Project–which says the loosening is too much–and the National Association of Broadcasters–which says the loosening didn’t go far enough.

Interestingly, in addition to taking aim at the lack of mainstream media coverage of the issue, Schechter also has some criticism for the media reform side:

In June, demands for media reform were championed by hundreds of activist groups although later more conservative organizations led by the National Rifle Association and the Parents Television Council — that had turned the anti-FCC campaign into a powerful coalition with bi-partisan clout — faded away.

A conference last fall in Madison Wisconsin, drew an impressive crowd of more than 2,000 organizers, educators and activists but most leaned well to the left. The energy of the event was not followed up the way it might have been.

Unsurprising, but true. Although I do think it’s reasonable to argue that lots of other people are also waiting on the appeals court decision, even though a sustained campaign would clearly be useful even if the court decides against the FCC.

I’m always torn on these reform issues, since the media ownership situation was really crappy before June 2, 2003. The store was already given away with the Telecommunications Act of 1996 — all that’s left now are some stale boxes of cereal.

Increasingly, I don’t want reform — I want revolution.

But I will concede that even a revolutionary war must be fought on many fronts, and legislative and regulatory gains are not worthless, provided the campaign to win them doesn’t consume all the available energy.

I am bad at lobbying, begging and currying favor. But I do like to blog, produce radio, write zines, shoot video and help find venues for these sorts of media. These are all useful and effective means to acheive change.

Damn the Congress, NAB and FCC.

Every day I act as though I am the media.