Following up on months of lobbying with a 49-page attack on the FCC's proposed media ownership plan, the Consumer Federation of America and Consumers Union said the expected rules are driven by a results-oriented political agenda and would spur "dramatic consolidation" of the two main news sources for 70 million people.
"When the FCC abandoned a principled analysis of media market structure in favor of political deals, the media ownership proceedings lost any hint of intellectual or public policy integrity," the groups said in the study. Mark Cooper, the CFA's director of research, is the chief author.
The study claims the rules would allow newspaper-TV mergers in the top 150 markets-inappropriately so in 140 of those. "The media market structure on many of these localities would become greatly distorted because of lack of competition," the groups wrote.
Language in the study suggests many possible routes for court challenges to the proposed rules. It's available at www.consumerfed.org/FCCcritique.05.21.03.pdf.
Meanwhile, House Commerce Committee Billy Tauzin (R-La.) came to FCC Chairman Michael Powell's defense May 29, as he has before during the current ownership debate, attacking critics of the expected rules.
"It's time for these folks to adjust their antennas and tune in reality," Tauzin said of the FCC's critics in a released statement. "The FCC is merely trying to do what both Congress and the courts have repeatedly told it to do-justify its broadcast ownership rules."
Tauzin went further than any proposal floated by the FCC, however, suggesting that any media regulation at all might be too much.
"In a highly competitive, diverse 21st Century marketplace, the idea of the federal government trying to regulate media ownership should be as offensive to Americans as trying to regulate free speech itself," he said.
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