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Update: The FCC Vote
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December 21, 2007


Despite vigorous public opposition, on December 18, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted 3-2, along party lines, to allow publishers to own both newspapers and broadcast stations in the 20 largest cities in the country. The vote, pushed through by Republican Chairman Kevin Martin, relaxed ownership rules put in place in 1975.

"Allowing cross-ownership may help to forestall the erosion in local news coverage by enabling companies to share news-gathering costs across media platforms," Chairman Martin said before the vote.

The day before the vote, 25 senators, from both sides of the aisle, including Byron L. Dorgan (D-ND) and Ted Stevens (R-AK), submitted a letter to Martin demanding that he postpone the vote. The letter reads:

"If you proceed to take final action on this rule on Dec. 18 without having given reasonable opportunity for comment on the actual rules and study the related issues, we will immediately move legislation that will revoke and nullify the proposed rule."

After 6 public hearings on the rule change, the latest in Seattle on November 9 that lasted until 1 in the morning, public opinion appeared to be overwhelmingly opposed to relaxing ownership restrictions. "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.

WEB EXCLUSIVE: Watch Juan Gonzalez, National Association of Hispanic Journalists, on minority media ownership in America

Video credits: CNN ImageSource, ABC News VideoSource.

Published on December 21, 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.

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Producer Peter Meryash and Correspondent Rick Karr analyze the recent FCC vote and discuss what's next.

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