Media Ownership Rules Under Review
& How To Get Involved
September 13, 2001, just two days after the terrorist attacks, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
initiated a review of several key rules limiting the size of big media
corporations. Then on September 12, 2002 the FCC combined the 2001
review with all its remaining broadcast ownership rules in the biggest
review of ownership rules in its history. At
stake are a handful of ownership rules that seek to protect localism,
independence, and diversity in the media.
bad some may think the media is now, it is likely to get much worse
if the FCC is successful in eliminating these rules.
Rules Under Review
of the rules currently under review are:
A detailed view of all the rules and their ramifications available here.
As part of this proceeding, the FCC is required to seek public participation before eliminating these rules.
Right now is the crucial period for Reply Comments, open until February 3, 2003. This is to allow people to reply to comments that were filed in the first comment period, which has just ended on January 2. You can view
comments that have been filed on the FCC's website by visiting the site's search form and entering the docket number 02-277.
Then CLICK HERE to use a form that will automatically enter your reply comments into the FCC's rulemaking process,
and will maximize your effort by also forwarding your comments to the
US Senate Commerce Committee and the senators from your state. The FCC
requires that you include your contact information, which you will have an opportunity to do.
October 1, 2002, the FCC released twelve studies for the public to review
as part of this process, yet it withheld the data and methodology used
in the studies until parts of it were released on November 5, 2002. You can View
the Studies by the Media Ownership Working Group.
a 30 day extension of the public reply window to February 2, 2003,
there may seem to be little time in which to review and respond meaningfully to these
studies, but don't let that stop you from submitting comments!
J. Copps states, "With such important values at stake, we ought
to give parties the time to provide detailed data, granular evidence and
studied analysis. I am disappointed in the extreme and alarmed at the
prospect of forging ahead to dismantle the limits and caps before we fully
understand the effects of such action."
Outstanding Questions Put Forward
Copps puts forward the following outstanding questions yet to be answered
by the FCCs studies (and would be good questions to address in your
- If we eliminate our remaining media concentration rules, what will be
the effect on the localism, diversity, and independence that have
traditionally undergirded the democratic process? This fundamental
and obvious question remains unaddressed.
As part of this, what does the massive consolidation of the radio market
and the current state of radio quality and diversity tell us about what
will happen if we eliminate our remaining rules? And, how much news and
public affairs programming was broadcast in the years immediately before
and after elimination of FCC radio ownership rules?
What effects have recent mergers, radio consolidation, and TV duopolies
had on the personnel and resources devoted to news, public affairs, and
public service programming, and on the output of such programming? Will
eliminating our rules result in a crisis in these areas?
Do newspapers and co-owned broadcast stations carry similar viewpoints
more frequently than independent newspapers and broadcast stations? If
so, and if we eliminate our rules, what are the implications for democracy
and debate in America?
How do consolidation and co-ownership affect the medias focus on
issues important to minorities and to the objective of diversity?
What are the effects of new technologies on the consolidation issue? Digital
broadcast, for example, will provide existing station owners with the
ability to multi-cast several programs simultaneously. This alone augments
their influence. What are the effects of this on competition?
Ownership Rules Matter
Impact on democracy
If one company can own a town's local newspaper, TV and radio stations,
if national TV networks can merge their news operations, if nothing limits
the size of these huge corporations, we will get a more limited view on
the news. Issues that matter can be more easily buried or distorted, and
differing viewpoints will not be heard.
Diversity of creativity, art, culture, vision
We don't need censorship to combat violent, sexist, racist, commercialized,
unoriginal mediawe need access for independent producers to offer
alternatives. We need choicesnot more channels from the same owners.
Labor rights and minority ownership
Fewer media companies means fewer jobs for media workers. Media
ownership by people of color and women is down and getting worse as a
result of consolidation.
Freedom of the 'Net
If the media giants have their way, even the Internet will be controlled
by monopolies who can limit how we access the Internet, as well as monitor
and charge us for everything we view.
Localism and community
Without local owners and local newsrooms, media are disconnected
from communities. Clear Channel radio uses digital tricks to make the
same DJ sound local in dozens of different cities. The bigger these
companies get, the less likely they are to cover local issues or feature
With the recent wave of corporate malfeasance (especially in the
media sector) we need watchdogs now more than evernot media run
by corporate honchos concerned only about their stock price.
The Fate of Journalism
Ownership consolidation means fewer foreign news bureaus, investigative
reporters and resources for journalists. Mega-media's main goal is profit,
which undermines any sense of public or civic duty.
Additional Information & Resources
Communications Commission - Ownership page
page for the ownership rules review, with links to relevant documents,
the FCCs decision-making process
A handy fact sheet from the FCC that gives an overview
of how the FCC's process works.
to File Comments Fact Sheet
Answers basic questions about how to file comments with
Articles and background info:
For more information see:
Media Tank, founded in January 2002, is an innovative non-profit organization working to bring together media arts, education and activism to build broader awareness and support for media as a vital civic, cultural and communications resource.
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