Don’t issue new media ownership guidelines until after the DTV transition is complete, Jim Goodmon urged the FCC at the public hearing in Washington, D.C. Goodmon, president and CEO of Capital Broadcasting in Raleigh, N.C., was one of about a dozen witness who testified at the sixth and final public hearing called by the commission to gather feedback on media ownership. The nation’s media ownership rules have been in limbo since 2002, when a federal court struck them down and told the FCC to try again. It’s been trying ever since.
A self-described “third-generation” president of Capital, Goodmon urged the commission to slow down.
“Please don’t do anything about media ownership,” he said, motivating a few quiet catcalls from the audience, many of whom want media ownership regulations tightened up for conglomerates and opened up for more minorities and women. Bob Edwards, the former ubiquitous voice of NPR and the national first vice president of AFTRA, got a round of applause for testifying that media consolidation diminished the amount and of the public discourse. Lisa Fager Bediako, president and co-founder of Industry Ears, a media watchdog organization said that last year, when Korea was threatening its neighbors with nukes, the No. 1 story on urban radio was Lil’ Kim being released from jail.
The hearing, uncharacteristically held on Halloween, was briefly disrupted when FCC security officers tried to eject a woman wearing short French maid dress costume with a pig-snout necklace. Most of the press pool surrounded her and took photos while Chairman Kevin Martin continued reading his statement. She was finally allowed to stay and provide a few side comments to witness testimony, including Goodmon’s.
“We are now going into the digital transition,” he said. “Why would we work on ownership at the end of an era?”
The previous rules were cobbled piecemeal, Goodmon said, and as a result, a company can’t own a TV station and a newspaper in the same town, but “that same crowd can own eight radio stations.”
Goodmon asked the commission to do three things before it completed its ownership proceeding: Complete the Third Periodic Report on the DTV Transition; define public interest standards and to require quarterly reporting of public interest activities.
“Tell us what our minimum public interest standards are, you wouldn’t just have people here shooting out what’s good or bad,” he said of public interest obligations. “Require quarterly reporting. So you can know what we’re doing.”
The public hearing followed the FCC’s regular monthly meeting, during which it approved 5-0 a ruling to end exclusive deals that cable operators sometimes have to provide TV service in apartment buildings. The video franchise rules laid out for telecoms earlier this year were also extended to incumbent cable operators in a 3-2 vote.
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