The Federal Communications Commission is charging ahead with plans to allow more media consolidation with a vote expected by the middle of December. This rule change seems custom made for Rupert Murdoch who has set his sights set on buying the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune — the major papers in the nation's second- and third-largest cities.
Right now that is illegal because News Corp already owns TV stations in those cities, but the FCC's proposed rule change would clear the way for Murdoch to expand his media empire. Worse, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski is hoping the agency can pass these changes with little public input and no transparency.
Here are five things you need to know about the FCC's giveaway to big media.
1) It will put more media in the hands of Rupert Murdoch.
If the FCC guts its ownership rules, nothing will stop Murdoch and other media giants from getting even more control over your news.
2) It will put women and people of color in the crosshairs of consolidation.
Women own less than 7 percent of all broadcast outlets, while people of color control only 3.6 percent of all TV stations and just 8 percent of all radio stations. Most of the few TV stations owned by members of these groups fall outside the top four in each media market. As it happens, the FCC proposal targets stations outside the top four — which means that ownership levels for women and people of color would plunge even further under Genachowski’s plan.
3) It will create local media monopolies.
One company will be allowed to own a daily newspaper, two TV stations and up to eight radio stations in your town. That one company could be your Internet provider, too.
4) It will mean less news for local communities.
Cross-ownership crowds out the competition — and leads to less local news coverage. The FCC's own research proves this.
5) It will go against the will of the people.
Genachowski’s plan is essentially the same media consolidation proposal that the Bush FCC tried to force through in 2007. The Senate voted to repeal it. A federal court overturned it. And 99 percent of the public comments the FCC received opposed it. Already an incredible list of civil rights groups have stood up to oppose this new deal.