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I'll just use my diary tonight to highlight the Media Ownership Hearings that have just begun.

The concentration of media ownership by a few large corporations came under attack Tuesday as the
Federal Communications Commission opened a series of hearings on the issue.

"Without diversity in ownership and participation, our democracy is in danger," Rep. Maxine Waters said at the initial hearing held at the University of Southern California. - ap

The FCC is reconsidering a number of broadcast ownership rules, including whether a single company should be able to own both a newspaper and television station in the same market.

The last time the agency revisited the ownership rules was in 2003, when it voted 3-2 to raise the national audience cap for television station owners, lessen restrictions on how many radio and television stations a company may own in the same market and allow for cross-ownership of newspapers and broadcast stations in some instances.

The decision sparked a popular revolt, congressional action and a federal appeals court decision that resulted in most of the rules being sent back to the agency for reconsideration.

From Reuters

The five FCC commissioners found themselves on center stage as participants, ranging from Mike Mills, bassist for the rock band R.E.M., to "Rockford Files" producer Stephen Cannell, criticized media mergers they said were drowning out independent voices.

Producers described difficulties getting shows on television networks unless they relented to demands to change actors or storylines. They urged the FCC to require 25 percent of primetime programming come from independent producers.

"Casting decisions are now made by the networks," said actress Anne-Marie Johnson, who has appeared on popular TV shows like "Melrose Place" and "JAG."

"A requirement for independent voices in production is critical to the completion of a goal of diversity in America," Johnson said during an event that at times sounded like a raucous political rally against media consolidation.

From TVWeek

Speaking during a public hearing Tuesday on media consolidation, FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein drew frequent cheers by delivering a lengthy critique of media consolidation.

..."Since the FCC has repealed these [media consolidation] rules, the number of independent sources that provide prime-time programming to the major broadcast networks has decreased from 23 in the early 1990s to only two today. There is no justification for this," said Mr. Adelstein, who holds a Democratic seat on the FCC. "Today, instead of directors, producers, writers and actors being free to share their creative talents, they're being forced to integrate and promote products to improve the networks' bottom line for Wall Street."

Marty Kaplan on The Huffington Post

But...will these hearings actually DO anything? From FMQB

While Kevin Martin's first term as FCC Chairman expired on June 30, a hold has been placed on his nomination to a second term on the commission, according to Broadcasting & Cable. Martin was renominated in April by the President for a second, five-year term, and in September, the Senate Commerce Committee voted 21 to 0 to approve the renomination. However, an expected floor vote before the election break has not happened yet.

Sources say that it is a policy issue, not a personal one, that prompted the hold, and the hold can be lifted at any time, according to B&C. One theory floating around is that the hold was placed by Senator John Sununu (R-NH) over the issue of e911 - the requirement, pushed by the FCC, that interconnected VOIP services deliver 911 calls to a local emergency operator as a standard feature rather than an option. However, any Senator can place a hold on a renomination.

At this point the hold has little effect since even without renomination, Martin could still serve until the close of the next session of Congress, which is in the fall of 2007. If the hold is not lifted by the Senate's planned exit on October 30, Martin could still get a vote in a lame duck session starting in November, or even a recess appointment by the President, says B&C.

The Chicago Tribune is perhaps feeling a bit anxious...(From ChicagoBusiness

"The Tribune Co. that owns the L.A. Times and these other stations operates out of Chicago and not L.A., and there is something about that that is inherently undemocratic," (Jesse)Jackson said.

The media ownership issue has not reached the same level of interest as it did in 2003, when the FCC was besieged with complaints from media consolidation foes on both the right and the left. This time around, the marquee issue - the national broadcast audience cap - is off the table.

Former FCC Chairman Michael Powell was criticized for conducting only one public hearing three years ago before the commission voted on the media ownership rules. Current FCC Chairman Kevin Martin has taken a different approach, promising six meetings in all, with future sites yet to be announced.

The ownership rules exist because the broadcast airwaves are owned by the public, and the law requires that the public interest be considered in how they are regulated. Too much control over the broadcast media in a market is deemed not in the public interest, though limits have been loosened over the years.

The FCC will grant a waiver of its rules on cross-ownership between newspapers and broadcasters when the property to be bought is in financial trouble. In New York City, for example, Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. was granted a permanent waiver to purchase the New York Post, even though he owned a television station at the time.

In the Tribune case, the company bought the Los Angeles Times and the rest of the Times Mirror chain, betting that the FCC would change the cross-ownership rule before the station licenses would come up for renewal.

Originally posted to jillian on Tue Oct 03, 2006 at 07:24 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Look who's interested in the FCC rulings... (8+ / 0-)

    Dick Armey!

    And he's putting out press releases...

    Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will hold a field hearing in Los Angeles on Tuesday to discuss media ownership. FreedomWorks is showing up to protect the first amendment and the free enterprise system.

    Today's communications market is thriving. Cable, satellite and broadband providers compete directly with incumbent broadcasters for programming. This competition benefits consumers through more choices in programming with a wide variety of media outlets.

    FreedomWorks Chairman Dick Armey commented, "Broadcast media is not the dominant source of news and information it used to be, and new broadband technologies will do even more to challenge incumbent broadcasters. But for anti-market advocates, it represents their last viable opportunity to use the power of government to force us to listen to them. The government can take positive steps to help all viewers and listeners, by not by taking control of the airwaves. The government can move to increase competition and choice by removing archaic laws that are out of step with the fundamental changes occurring in the marketplace."

    and don't you just hate it when they end a Press Release with this sort of crap...

    FreedomWorks is a grassroots organization with over 800,000 members nationwide, dedicated to lower taxes, less government and more freedom.

    And look what Dick Armey's little pet project supporters have to say...

    "Folks, you've got to get to know this organization ... They have been doing a great job all over the country educating people."

    -President George W. Bush

    "You guys are everywhere."

    • Florida Governor Jeb Bush

    "Small wonder that Bush found [Carlos] Huertas so convincing. The Florida grandfather is an activist for FreedomWorks..."

    --Newsweek, March 14, 2005

    Boy these "FreedomWorks" folks are evil...(From their "Net Brutality")

    A free market coalition led by FreedomWorks and Protest Warrior crashed the press conference held today by Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA), MoveOn.org and musician Moby. Our sign “Net Brutality” proved fitting, as one of the Left’s activists struck one of our members in the face with a sign. This incident interrupted the press conference, causing Rep. Markey and Moby to turn and look at the commotion. The man was swiftly ushered away by the MoveOn crowd as to avoid further embarrassment. MoveOn claims that the man was not a member, but was “some random guy from off the street.”

    FreedomWorks staff and volunteers attended the press conference with signs that said, “Say No to Net Neutrality,” “Hands Off the Internet” and “No Net Neutering.” FreedomWorks handed out copies of Researcher Arpan Sura’s piece on net neutrality published in Human Events Online, as well as today’s The Wall Street Journal’s piece on the same topic.

    The would-be Internet regulators tried to block these signs and marginalize the message of FreedomWorks and Protest Warrior. However, as the pictures show, we were able to avoid being censored.

    The hypocrisy of the Left was evident today, as they did not welcome any dissenting views. The Left’s frustration was apparent as reporters began snapping photos and pointing their TV cameras at the protestors, and Rep. Markey’s message got lost in the battle for positioning behind him.

    No wonder these FCC hearings are important to them. Watch out for their Press Releases hitting the "Corporate Media" to "blur the truth".

    Any Kossacks have "run in's" with this crowd?

    I'm not going anywhere. I'm standing up, which is how one speaks in opposition in a civilized world. - Ainsley Hayes

    by jillian on Tue Oct 03, 2006 at 07:37:39 PM PDT

  •  I attended the meeting. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jillian, highacidity, LNK, CSI Bentonville

    I'll be blogging it on News Corpse later this evening, but I'd thought I'd give you this tid bit.

    Every speaker from the public (about 400 people) opposed any further consolidation, except for one - The FreedomWorks guy. He was roundly boo'ed.

    If the commissioners were paying attention, they got a strong and unified message from the people: Stop Consolidation!

    • Eat At . . . . .
    Cheney's Diner - Don't Torture Yourself

    by KingOneEye on Tue Oct 03, 2006 at 07:48:19 PM PDT

  •  Thanks for this diary.. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jillian, JuliaAnn, Luetta, CSI Bentonville

    ... I wish it were getting more play here.

    This issue is one of the foundational reasons the media and our government are in the awful mess they are currently.

  •  The Media is the lynchpin that holds (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jillian, JuliaAnn, LNK, CSI Bentonville
    the whole anti-Public agenda of the rightwing. For starters we need to restore the Fairness Doctrine, applying it to all broadcast and cable public affairs programming.

    At the same time, we need a "one outlet per mass market, per company rule." Make Cartelization an impossibility.

    End Game: Break the Corporate monopoly on programming content.

    Corruption Now King for America!

    by Jim P on Tue Oct 03, 2006 at 07:55:11 PM PDT

  •  Traveling hearings? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    CSI Bentonville

    Is there a schedule somewhere of when and where the hearings will be?

    •  Don't think so.... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      CSI Bentonville

      Current FCC Chairman Kevin Martin has taken a different approach, promising six meetings in all, with future sites yet to be announced.

      I'm not going anywhere. I'm standing up, which is how one speaks in opposition in a civilized world. - Ainsley Hayes

      by jillian on Tue Oct 03, 2006 at 08:51:09 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Gimme Action Links (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jillian

    and quick summary at the top of the diary because we're with you on this.

    Help us help you.

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