FCC Decides American Media Isn't Screwed Up Enough
Posted by Pile
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|The head of the Federal Communications Commission has circulated an ambitious plan to relax the decades-old media ownership rules, including repealing a rule that forbids a company to own both a newspaper and a television or radio station in the same city.|
Good f*cking grief! Is anybody paying attention? We've been railing for years about how eradicating The Fairness Doctrine and the passage of the 1996 Telco Act gutted media and created the mess we're in now, and the Bush administration's FCC is again, pandering to corporate interests at the expense of Americans ever having any hope of decent news and other media options.
Kevin J. Martin, chairman of the commission, wants to repeal the rule in the next two months — a plan that, if successful, would be a big victory for some executives of media conglomerates.
Among them are Samuel Zell, the Chicago investor who is seeking to complete a buyout of the Tribune Company, and Rupert Murdoch, who has lobbied against the rule for years so that he can continue controlling both The New York Post and a Fox television station in New York.
The proposal appears to have the support of a majority of the five commission members, agency officials said, although it is not clear that Mr. Martin would proceed with a sweeping deregulatory approach on a vote of 3 to 2 — something his predecessor tried without success. In interviews on Wednesday, the agency’s two Democratic members raised questions about Mr. Martin’s approach.
Mr. Martin said he was striving to reach a consensus with his fellow commissioners, both on the schedule and on the underlying rule changes, although he would not say whether he would move the measures forward if he were able to muster only three votes.
“We’ve had six hearings around the country already; we’ve done numerous studies; we’ve been collecting data for the last 18 months; and the issues have been pending for years,” Mr. Martin said in an interview. “I think it is an appropriate time to begin a discussion to complete this rule-making and complete these media ownership issues.”
Officials said the commission would consider loosening the restrictions on the number of radio and television stations a company could own in the same city.
Currently, a company can own two television stations in the larger markets only if at least one is not among the four largest stations and if there are at least eight local stations. The rules also limit the number of radio stations that a company can own to no more than eight in each of the largest markets.
The deregulatory proposal is likely to put the agency once again at the center of a debate between the media companies, which view the restrictions as anachronistic, and civil rights, labor, religious and other groups that maintain the government has let media conglomerates grow too large.