A Journal of America's Political Soul Heaven & Earth: Where Politics and Spirituality Meet
June 30, 2022  
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Issue No. 9 - Heaven & Earth
F E A T U R E S :

New » From Darkness, Awakening

New » On Morality

New » On Courage

Spirit Matters:
G&G Interviews Michael Lerner

We Still Need a Religious Left

9/11 and the American Empire:
How Should Religious People Respond?

Saving Fundamentalists From the Religious Right

The Dark Jesus: Spiritual Imagery Inspires Change and Heals Racism

Will We Choose To Survive?

A Sneak-Peak Interview with the Messiah

G&G Arts - Essay
Whose Good? Who's Evil?


Media Ownership Rules Under Review
& How To Get Involved

Background

On 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.

However 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

Some of the rules currently under review are:

  • Newspaper/Broadcast Cross-Ownership Rule – limits a single corporation from owning both a broadcast station and newspaper in the same community.
  • Dual Network Rule – prevents any two of the major TV networks (ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX) from merging
  • National Broadcast Ownership Cap – prevents a single company from owning multiple broadcast stations that collectively reach more than 35 percent of all US households.

A detailed view of all the rules and their ramifications available here.

 

Participate!

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.

Also, on 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.

Despite 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!

FCC Commissioner Michael 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."

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Outstanding Questions Put Forward

Commissioner Copps puts forward the following outstanding questions yet to be answered by the FCC’s studies (and would be good questions to address in your public comments):

  • 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 media’s 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?

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Why 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 media—we need access for independent producers to offer alternatives. We need choices—not 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 local artists.

Corporate accountability – With the recent wave of corporate malfeasance (especially in the media sector) we need watchdogs now more than ever—not 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.

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Additional Information & Resources

Federal Communications Commission - Ownership page
Main page for the ownership rules review, with links to relevant documents, etc.

About the FCC’s decision-making process
A handy fact sheet from the FCC that gives an overview of how the FCC's process works.

How to File Comments Fact Sheet
Answers basic questions about how to file comments with the FCC.

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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