FCC Pulls the Scab off the Media Ownership Sore

With a full Republican-majority commission, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin finally took the wraps off his proceeding to revisit media ownership rules [link to press release PDF]. Not unexpectedly, this new proceeding threatens to be just as bad as the last one in 2003. I’ll let Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein explain why [PDF]:

First, the process does not commit to giving the public an opportunity to comment on specific proposals before any changes to the rules are finalized. Second, it does not commit to completing the localism proceeding and rulemaking before changing the ownership rules. Finally, it does not commit to making any final decision in a comprehensive manner. Given the history of this proceeding, these failings are astonishing.

Predictably, only Adelstein and fellow Democrat Michael Copps have anything substantive or critical to say about the proceeding. The Chairman, of course, lauds it, and the two new Republican Commissioners’ statements say, in essence, “gee whiz, this is an important thing we’ll be considering.”

The main improvement on the new proceeding are that there will be six FCC-sponsored public hearings, compared to only one on the last one, which then-Chairman Powell scheduled only after taking a serious drubbing from his Democratic colleagues and the public.

Martin also promises $200,000 for studies on issues like, “competition within types of media and across media platforms,” and, “independent and diverse programming in today’s media environment.” But if they’re anything like the studies done for the 2002 ownership proceeding, they’ll be slanted almost to the point of being comical.

Grassroots campaigning by public interest groups were an key element in drawing attention to the 2002-03 ownership rules rewrite, and so the opposition isn’t resting on this one, either. They’ve put together a growing coalition called Stop Big Media to mobilize people against further loosening ownership rules.

Yes, the war to maintain some sanity, diversity and freedom in media, from the internet to the airwaves, has many fronts. Here’s to hoping these battles create synergy and cooperation, rather than dividing our efforts.







One response to “FCC Pulls the Scab off the Media Ownership Sore”

  1. […] On Tuesday the FCC finally released the official Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for its Media Ownership Proceeding [PDF], more than a month after first announcing that it would happen. This proceeding marks the Commission’s attempt to deal with the 2004 appeals court ruling against the 2003 media ownership rules rewrite which attempted to greatly loosen restictions on TV station ownership, and the co-ownership of newspapers and TV stations. […]

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