It's easy to see why the Tribune had to chime in on a matter it would prefer to keep under wraps, considering this report about what happened last week at the FCC hearing in Seattle. Excerpts:
But what Copps and Adelstein heard and recorded only added fuel to the very healthy fire being set under Powell and his omnibus media ownership review. This was not the usual size, composition, or decibel level of a normal FCC public hearing. The auditorium at the University of Washington was packed with critics of corporate media and its increasing stranglehold on the news we read, the music we hear, and the culture we live in.
Defenders of media diversity are largely regarding this battle as a last stand -- and they're winning. One of the other two Republican commissioners, Kevin Martin, broke with Powell and created a 3-2 majority with Copps and Adelstein on a key telecommunications industry vote last month; Martin's "mutiny" has FCC and broadcast industry insiders abuzz that he might also break with Powell on the ownership initiative. Already, Congressional and public pressure has made it increasingly likely that of the six original planks of Powell's deregulation plan, only a watered-down version of the newspaper cross-ownership piece will survive.
As big corporations snap up stations and produce news that is ever more conservative -- or irrelevant, or they abolish local news entirely -- and as music stations put the same six formats and 50 artists on thousands of outlets, media activists, frequently using new or newly affordable technology, have rushed to fill the void. The dogs and ponies at last Friday's FCC hearing weren't just protesting a further erosion of media diversity and competition; increasingly, they are the competition. And what they're producing is frequently better.
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