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Massing of the Media
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December 14, 2007

Publishing conglomerates have been buying up local newspapers for more than thirty years, but they've been prohibited from buying radio and TV stations in their home towns. The FCC is poised to relax this rule within the month.

This week, the FCC went before the Senate Commerce Committee to discuss media ownership rule changes that Chairman Kevin Martin has been advocating, hoping to push through by December 18. Martin explains:

"This proposal would allow a newspaper to purchase a broadcast station - but not one of the top four television station - in the largest 20 cities in the country as long as 8 independent voices remain. This relatively minor loosening of the ban on newspaper/broadcast cross-ownership in markets where there are so many voices and sufficient competition would help strike a balance between ensuring the quality of local news gathering while guarding against too much concentration."

Yet after 6 public hearings on proposed changes, the latest in Seattle on November 9 that lasted until 1 in the morning, public opinion appears to be overwhelmingly opposed to relaxing the rules. "We told you a year ago when you came to Seattle...What part of that didn't you understand?" stated area resident Susan McCabe at the hearing. Three days after the Seattle hearing, Chairman Martin released this Op-Ed in THE NEW YORK TIMES, which further stresses his desire to push through changes, despite public opinion.

Commissioner Michael Copps, one of the two Democrats in the minority on the FCC, continues to speak out vigorously against the impending rule changes vote:

What we have here is an unseemly rush to judgment, a stubborn insistence to finish the proceeding by December 18th, public and congressional opinion be damned. When overwhelming majorities of citizens oppose this, when members of Congress write to caution us every day, and when legislation to avoid a nine-car train wreck is being actively considered on Capitol Hill, I think the FCC has a responsibility to stop, look and listen. The stakes are enormous.

Published on December 14, 2007

Related Media:
Media Ownership Rules
The FCC Chairman is poised to relax rules - get the latest.

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.

Michael J. Copps
Bill Moyers talks with FCC Commissioner Michael J. Copps about the state of media consolidation and Net Neutrality.

References and Reading:
Media Ownership Studies and Documents

Proposals to Reform Minority Ownership (pdf)
Read over 40 concrete proposals for the FCC from the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council and the Council for the Diversity and Competition Supports

Northwestern University Study (pdf)
The local TV news experience on how to win viewers by focusing on engagement, July 20, 2007

Out of the Picture: Minority & Female TV Station Ownership in the U.S.
Read this report on minority ownership in the media, researched by

Off the Dial: Minority & Female Radio Station Ownership in the U.S.
A report on minority ownership in the media, researched by

Minority and Female Ownership in Media Enterprises (pdf)
This study examines levels of minority ownership of media companies and barriers to entry. By Arie Beresteanu and Paul B. Ellickson, Duke University

Chicago Minority Ownership Study
This study examines minority media ownership in the Chicago area, compiled by

Who Owns the Media Study
A study on who owns the media

Prometheus v. FCC (pdf)
3rd Circuit Court of Appeals Decision against the FCC rules changes in 2003

More on Media Consolidation

Public Hearing on Media Ownership
Chicago, Illinois - 9/20/07
Listen to an audio Webcast of the recent public hearing on media ownership from Chicago.

Watch the Press Conference Featuring Senators Dorgan and Lott on Media Ownership, Oct. 24, 2007

FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein on Media Diversity
Remarks by Commissioner Adelstein, Rainbow PUSH Coalition and Education Fund, Media & Telecommunications Symposium, October 12, 2007

Common Cause: Media Consolidation
Common Cause is a nonpartisan nonprofit advocacy organization founded in 1970 by John Gardner as a vehicle for citizens to make their voices heard in the political process and to hold their elected leaders accountable to the public interest. Common Cause's Media and Democracy Projects focuses on consolidation and net neutrality issues.

The Center for Public Integrity
The non-partisan watchdog group released a study on the workings of the FCC called "Well Connected." It documents the revolving door between FCC commission membership and industry lobbying. The study contains several items of note:

  • A Travel report documenting FCC trips and expenses paid for by industry groups.
  • Databases enabling you to find out who owns what media outlets in your own neighborhood.
  • A survey of the media ownership in the hometowns of the five FCC commissioners.
  • Documentation on how the FCC gathers and disseminates its data on media ownership.

Colombia Journalism Review: Who Owns What?
"Who Owns What?" by the Colombia Journalism Review (CJR) features a list of media conglomerates and what they own. The page also provides a selected list of articles from the CJR archive on media concentration.

Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
The Federal Communication Commission is an independent government organization accountable to Congress. The FCC regulates "interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite and cable" within U.S. jurisdiction. The FCC Web site features a special section on media ownership which includes information on the Broadcast-Newspaper Cross-Ownership Rule and the Local Radio Ownership Rule in the form of announcements, press releases, and policy studies.

The Telecommunications Act of 1996
This Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Web page is devoted to the landmark Telecommunications Act of 1996, which promoted deregulation of the telecommunication industry (cable, long distance telephone service, local telephone service, and broadband) to create a competitive communications market and deliver better services and prices to consumers. The Web site features the complete text of the legislation and provides relevant FCC materials related to the implementation and guidelines of the Act.
Free Press is a national nonpartisan organization working on media policy. Free Press favors "a more competitive and public interest-oriented media system with a strong nonprofit and noncommercial sector." The Web site contains information on its net neutrality and anti-media consolidation efforts.

Also This Week:

Bill Moyers talks with host of MSNBC's COUNTDOWN with Keith Olbermann about the relationships between politics and journalism.

A report on the debate around relaxing ownership rules and a look at the real-world implications of increasing cross-ownership of newspapers and broadcast outlets in the same markets.

The director of the African American Leadership Center at the University of Maryland on how race is playing out in the campaign.

Celebrity slideshow: What's the real power of 'power' endorsements?

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