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Abuse of Power at the FCC?
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December 12, 2008

At the close of the JOURNAL, Bill Moyers addressed a recent report on the Federal Communication Commission:

"Finally, the other big story out of Chicago this week was news that that city's Tribune Company, owner of the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times, as well as other newspapers, 24 television stations and the Chicago Cubs, had filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Its owner, Sam Zell, blamed the economy and $13 billion worth of debt. When zell took the company private last year, he received a waiver of the Federal Communications Commission rule barring ownership of both a newspaper and television station in the same local market, saying it was the only way he could make the deal work. He was supported in his effort by FCC Chairman Kevin Martin.

"Regular viewers of the journal know that media consolidation has been always been an important issue for us. We've been critical of Chairman Martin and his predecessor Michael Powell's attempts to give the big media multinationals free rein to take control of more and more TV and radio stations, drastically hurting local news coverage, independence and diversity.

"This week, the House Energy And Commerce Committee issued a scathing report attacking Martin's tenure at the FCC. the title? "Deception and Distrust." It chronicles what the authors call "egregious abuses of power" by Martin, who "...manipulated, withheld, or suppressed [agency] data, reports and information" to support his agenda. Committee Chairman John Dingell of Michigan took time from the fight to bailout the Detroit car industry to announce that, "the findings suggest [...] the FCC has operated in a dysfunctional manner and Commission business has suffered as a result."

"President-elect Obama will soon appoint a new FCC chairman and is solidly on the record against media consolidation. Kevin Martin has indicated a willingness to stay on a bit to ease the transition. Thanks, but no thanks."

Related Media:
Media Ownership Rules
The FCC Chairman is poised to relax rules - get the latest. (November 16, 2007)

Minority Media
BILL MOYERS JOURNAL reports on the real-world consequences of media policy through the lens of how it affects minority media ownership in America. (November 2, 2007)

Michael J. Copps
Bill Moyers talks with FCC Commissioner Michael J. Copps about the state of media consolidation and Net Neutrality. (August 24, 2007)

FCC Update
Producer Peter Meryash and Correspondent Rick Karr analyze the FCC vote to change media ownership rules. (December 21, 2007)

References and Reading:
"Deception and Distrust: The Federal Communications Commision Under Chairman Kevin J. Martin" (PDF)
A Majority Staff Report, prepared for the use of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, December 2008.

FCC Chairman Abused Power, House Probe Finds
By Cecilia Kang, THE WASHINGTON POST, December 10, 2008.

Kevin Martin's Abuse of Power
Tech Observer, PORTFOLIO, December 9, 2008.

Report Faults FCC Chairman Martin
By Fawn Johnson, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, December 10, 2008.

Published December 12, 2008

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