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November 2, 2007

"The FCC has a sad history when it comes to its treatment of women and minorities in broadcasting," remarked FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein at a recent media symposium in Chicago. Adelstein concludes:

"We need to implement policies that will address this crisis before we act on any rules to further consolidate the media, which can only take media outlets further out of the reach of women and people of color."

Still, as reported in THE NEW YORK TIMES, FCC Chairman Kevin J. Martin seems determined to push though relaxations on media-ownership rules that currently prevent the same company from owning both a newspaper and a television or radio station in the same city. "I think it is an appropriate time to begin a discussion to complete this rule-making and complete these media ownership issues," Chairman Martin told THE TIMES.

UDAPTE: FCC Chairman Kevin Martin announced Friday that the Commission will hold the sixth and final public hearing on media consolidation next Friday (Nov. 9th) in Seattle, Washington. "The purpose of the hearing is to fully involve the public in the process ..." according to the announcement.

But in a joint response, Commissioners Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein blasted the Chairman's decision to give the public only five business days notice before the hearing: "With such short notice, many people will be shut out ... This is outrageous and not how important media policy should be made."

Weigh in on FCC rule changes

Out of more than 10,000 radio stations in the country, African-Americans and Hispanics own only 635, just under 6%. A recent Duke University study concludes that "minorities and women are clearly underrepresented" in the radio, television and newspapers markets.

>Who Owns the Media?

In Chicago, with an African-American population of more than one million people, there is only one black-owned radio station, WVON. As Melody Spann-Cooper, who runs the station, explains:

Radio has moved from being in the business of empowering and educating people to Wall Street, to making money. And that's not the big corporate conglomerates, you know, that's not their fault. They were allowed to do this. It is the fault of government who did not put the proper checks and balances so that this could not happen.
Senators Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and Trent Lott (R-MS) have led a bipartisan effort on Capitol Hill warning the FCC Chairman Martin against "fast-tracking" rule-changes before experts and the public have had ample time to weigh in.

"We feel like there is a rush to judgment here," remarked Senator Lott at a recent press conference. "I personally think that more media concentration and further deterioration of localism is the wrong way to go."

Rick Karr

Rick Karr has reported how technology affects culture and society for several PBS shows and for over 10 years on National Public Radio News. He's currently writing and developing TechnoPop: How Technology Makes and Un-Makes Music, a book, documentary TV series, and blog that examine technology's effect on the sound and business of music. In 2006, Karr reported and co-wrote, "The Net at Risk," for MOYERS ON AMERICA.

Published on November 2, 2007

Related Media:
Commissioner Michael J. Copps
Bill Moyers talks with FCC Commissioner Michael J. Copps about the state of media consolidation and net neutrality.

Low-Power Radio
LPFM activist Hannah Sassaman and media journalist Rick Karr discuss the current battle to protect and bolster low-power FM radio. Plus, a look back at how low-power radio helped to save lives after Hurricane Katrina.

The Net at Risk
Watch the 'Moyers on America' 90-minute report on net neutrality produced by Peter Bull and with correspondent, Rick Karr.

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 FreePress 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

Plan Would Ease Limits on Media Owners
by Stephen Labaton, THE NEW YORK TIMES, August 16, 2006
"WVON-AM/1450, the city's only Black-owned radio station that bills itself "the talk of Chicago," has entered a historic agreement with the nation's largest owner of radio stations, Clear Channel."

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 recently released a new study on the workings of the FCC called "Well Connected." 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.

Additional Resources:

WVON Radio - The Talk of Chicago
Visit the WVON Web site featuring 24/7 streaming audio, weekly schedules, and further information about the station.

WVON goes 24/7
by Demetrius Patterson, CHICAGO DEFENDER, October 18, 2007
"The head of the Federal Communications Commission has circulated an ambitious plan to relax the decades-old media ownership rules, including repealing a rule that forbids a company to own both a newspaper and a television or radio station in the same city."

NEW YORK TIMES: Jena Six Navigtor
"A list of resources about the Jena Six as selected by researchers and editors of THE NEW YORK TIMES."

NPR: The Case of Louisiana's 'Jena Six'
A Collection of NPR's Jena Six Coverage

Also This Week:

BILL MOYERS JOURNAL reports on the real-world consequences of media policy through the lens of how it affects minority media ownership in America.

Moyers interviews Katherine S. Newman, author of THE MISSING CLASS: PORTRAITS OF THE NEAR POOR IN AMERICA, about the millions of near-poor in America, who are just one disaster away from poverty.
>More on the SCHIP debate

Bill Moyers asks why the news media's overlooking today's protestors.

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