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10.30.2006
Originally featured on BroadcastEngineering.com
FCC flooded with comments on media ownership

With the election now only days away, the fate of most major media-related issues are on hold until it’s determined which political party will end up in control of Congress; however, the contentious issue of media ownership consolidation isn’t taking any breaks.

Before last week’s deadline, the FCC had received more than 122,000 comments on the issue with the expectation of more to come. Consumer advocates and public interest organizations have united to pressure Republican commissioners, who hold a 3-2 majority, to retain current limits on broadcast ownership.

Once again, the fight against the further concentration of media ownership is a front burner political issue, with the Republicans in favor of loosening ownership restrictions. And, once again, the Media Access Project and its associates — the group that challenged the last ownership rules in court and won — are back to fight again.

Other groups including the Center for Digital Democracy, Common Cause, New America Foundation and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group join the Media Access Project in its anti-consolidation campaign.

The vast majority of Americans still rely on locally owned TV stations and newspapers as their most important sources for local news and information, according to Gene Kimmelman, vice president of the Consumers Union. “Cable and Internet are no substitutes,” he said.

The groups argued that in markets with fewer dominant media companies, independent and local media competing against each other are more likely to air diverse opinions and provide more ownership opportunities for minorities.

More consolidation and media concentration will likely result in fewer minority-owned stations and fewer stations airing local news content, said Ben Scott, policy director of the Free Press.



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