FCC Broadcast Ownership Rules, Part II: The Reawakening

Posted by Scott - July 25, 2006 (entry 474)

Just a few hours ago, the 3-2 Republican-dominated Federal Communications Commission released its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on broadcast ownership and broadcast/newspaper cross-ownership. At last, here is the required followup to the broadly rejected 2003 attempt under the agency's former chair Michael Powell (son of Colin) to eliminate virtually all remaining broadcast ownership rules. Those proposed rule changes were ultimately discarded by the courts and the Senate too.

According to Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein's mostly dissenting response, we may be heading in the direction of another fiasco similar to the one in 2003: "First, the process does not commit to giving the public an opportunity to comment on specific proposals before any changes to the rules are finalized. Second, it does not commit to completing the localism proceeding and rulemaking before changing the ownership rules. Finally, it does not commit to making any final decision in a comprehensive manner. Given the history of this proceeding, these failings are astonishing." Adelstein says the manner in which the Commission is launching this critical proceeding is totally inadequate, "like submitting a high-school term paper for a Ph.D. thesis" and called the process "inexcusable" and "shallow".

Among Commissioner Michael Copps many criticisms is the following: "(past) sins of omission need to be excised and new strategies to encourage diversity in ownership and jobs and programming need to be put in place. While people of color make up over 30 percent of our population, they own only 4.2 percent of the nation's radio stations and 1.5 percent of the nation's TV stations! More recent statistics suggest that even these numbers are in free fall. I believe the ownership of our media should look more like the diversity of our people. But if all the Commission does is ask a few pat questions and then sweep this issue under the rug one more time, we are not laying the groundwork for progress."

Friday September 22nd is the deadline for filing your comments on this Notice with the FCC. Watch this space for ways you can become more involved in the broadcast ownership battle.

Oy veh - here we go again.

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This entry was posted by Scott Sanders, a co-founder to date of seven Chicago area media and democracy activist groups.
Sanders has worked for long stretches in social science research, in the creation of video documentaries, as a librarian, and also in movie theater management.
You can link to Scott's combined curriculum vitae, timeline, and resume here.



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