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Old 05-16-2003, 03:45 PM   #1
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Easing American Media Ownership Caps

My friend emailed me this, thought I'd share for discussion.

i'm not sure how much you've heard about this, but this is a huge deal, and could really end up adversely affecting the already incompetent and unbalanced media in this country. for a nice
little outline of the situation, check out

http://www.nytimes.com/2003/05/13/opinion/13KRUG.html
(i know, i know, registration's annoying, but it's not intrusive and
they won't send you any junk. and it's worth it - krugman's really
good.)

more info at: http://www.tombarger.com/fcc.html

and:
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/articl...12/MN53063.DTL


Here's the letter moveon.org suggested i send to my friends, which will explain this better than i can:

On June 2, the Federal Communications Commission is planning on authorizing sweeping changes to the American news media. The rules change could allow your local TV stations, newspaper, radio stations, and cable provider to all be owned by one company. NBC, ABC, CBS and Fox could have the same corporate parent. The resulting concentration of ownership could be deeply destructive to our democracy.

Congress is supposed to guard against monopoly power. But the
upcoming rule change could change the landscape for all media and usher in an era in which a few corporations control your access to news and entertainment. Please join me in asking Congress and the FCC to support a diverse, competitive media landscape by going to:

http://www.moveon.org/stopthefcc/

You can also automatically have your comments
publicly filed at the FCC. When the folks at MoveOn.org talk to
Congresspeople about this issue, the response is usually the same: "We only hear from media lobbyists on this. It seems like my constituents aren't very concerned with this issue." A few thousand emails could permanently change that perception.

Please join this critical campaign, and let
Congress know you care.

Thanks.

***************************************************************

a day or so after i signed, i read that they've
had over 18 THOUSAND people respond to this. that's huge. but now the fcc is saying that since so many people are interested in this, there's no need for debate - which will effectively prevent arguments from being presented. so even though a lot of people have already signed, it's still important to show how big an interest there is in keeping what little diversity is left in the news. i know there maybe be bigger issues out there right now, but this really could have some terrible repercussions down the line. and fortunatly, it's a case where a relatively small amount of people might be able to make a difference. think about signing, and send this to other people who might be interested.
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Old 05-16-2003, 03:53 PM   #2
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The Senate had speeches about this yesterday, trying to get a bill introduced requiring public hearings. I participated in the senate & hours e-mails and if you go to the FCC you can personally e-mail the 5 person Board.

Because of previous deregulation of radio, I can't get any station that Clear Channel (the devil according to several dj's I know that work for them, including a local very conservative news reporter) doesn't own. It stinks. I don't want Rupert Murdoch to be able to buy Direct TV and control what is on the 500 channels I watch.
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Old 05-16-2003, 03:57 PM   #3
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Leave it to America to still not learn from its mistakes. And they wonder why people don't tune into broadcast TV / radio anymore?

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Old 05-17-2003, 09:28 AM   #4
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this is very annoying...the media shoudl be a tool of the pbulic to make informed decisions...nto sometng controlled by a few people...I realy hope the senate doesn't allow this....it makes the freedom of press clause in teh constitution almost useless.
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Old 05-17-2003, 02:29 PM   #5
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I believe Michael Powell is the problem.

Not to hold public hearings on this and let the public know what is happening makes it appear that he is a tool of the big corporations that will benefit from this.
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Old 05-17-2003, 02:33 PM   #6
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Re: Easing American Media Ownership Caps

Quote:
Originally posted by oliveu2cm
My friend emailed me this, thought I'd share for discussion.

i'm not sure how much you've heard about this, but this is a huge deal, and could really end up adversely affecting the already incompetent and unbalanced media in this country. for a nice
little outline of the situation, check out

http://www.nytimes.com/2003/05/13/opinion/13KRUG.html
(i know, i know, registration's annoying, but it's not intrusive and
they won't send you any junk. and it's worth it - krugman's really
good.)



i am registered, here is the article


Quote:

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

May 13, 2003
The China Syndrome
By PAUL KRUGMAN


A funny thing happened during the Iraq war: many Americans turned to the BBC for their TV news. They were looking for an alternative point of view — something they couldn't find on domestic networks, which, in the words of the BBC's director general, "wrapped themselves in the American flag and substituted patriotism for impartiality."

Leave aside the rights and wrongs of the war itself, and consider the paradox. The BBC is owned by the British government, and one might have expected it to support that government's policies. In fact, however, it tried hard — too hard, its critics say — to stay impartial. America's TV networks are privately owned, yet they behaved like state-run media.

What explains this paradox? It may have something to do with the China syndrome. No, not the one involving nuclear reactors — the one exhibited by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation when dealing with the government of the People's Republic.

In the United States, Mr. Murdoch's media empire — which includes Fox News and The New York Post — is known for its flag-waving patriotism. But all that patriotism didn't stop him from, as a Fortune article put it, "pandering to China's repressive regime to get his programming into that vast market." The pandering included dropping the BBC's World Service — which reports news China's government doesn't want disseminated — from his satellite programming, and having his publishing company cancel the publication of a book critical of the Chinese regime.

Can something like that happen in this country? Of course it can. Through its policy decisions — especially, though not only, decisions involving media regulation — the U.S. government can reward media companies that please it, punish those that don't. This gives private networks an incentive to curry favor with those in power. Yet because the networks aren't government-owned, they aren't subject to the kind of scrutiny faced by the BBC, which must take care not to seem like a tool of the ruling party. So we shouldn't be surprised if America's "independent" television is far more deferential to those in power than the state-run systems in Britain or — for another example — Israel.

A recent report by Stephen Labaton of The Times contained a nice illustration of the U.S. government's ability to reward media companies that do what it wants. The issue was a proposal by Michael Powell, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, to relax regulations on media ownership. The proposal, formally presented yesterday, may be summarized as a plan to let the bigger fish eat more of the smaller fish. Big media companies will be allowed to have a larger share of the national market and own more TV stations in any given local market, and many restrictions on "cross-ownership" — owning radio stations, TV stations and newspapers in the same local market — will be lifted.

The plan's defects aside — it will further reduce the diversity of news available to most people — what struck me was the horse-trading involved. One media group wrote to Mr. Powell, dropping its opposition to part of his plan "in return for favorable commission action" on another matter. That was indiscreet, but you'd have to be very naοve not to imagine that there are a lot of implicit quid pro quos out there.

And the implicit trading surely extends to news content. Imagine a TV news executive considering whether to run a major story that might damage the Bush administration — say, a follow-up on Senator Bob Graham's charge that a Congressional report on Sept. 11 has been kept classified because it would raise embarrassing questions about the administration's performance. Surely it would occur to that executive that the administration could punish any network running that story.

Meanwhile, both the formal rules and the codes of ethics that formerly prevented blatant partisanship are gone or ignored. Neil Cavuto of Fox News is an anchor, not a commentator. Yet after Baghdad's fall he told "those who opposed the liberation of Iraq" — a large minority — that "you were sickening then; you are sickening now." Fair and balanced.

We don't have censorship in this country; it's still possible to find different points of view. But we do have a system in which the major media companies have strong incentives to present the news in a way that pleases the party in power, and no incentive not to.


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Old 05-20-2003, 07:46 AM   #7
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Here's a new article about this issue. It seems the hearing is going forward regardless of public opinion.

FCC: Public Be Damned

By Robert W. McChesney and John Nichols, The Nation
May 16, 2003

Cheered on by the Bush Administration and powerful media conglomerates, Federal Communications Commission chair Michael Powell is pushing ahead with a June 2 vote to gut longstanding rules designed to prevent the growth of media monopolies. If successful, Powell's push could, in the words of dissident commissioner Michael Copps, "dramatically [alter] our nation's media landscape without the kind of debate and analysis that these issues clearly merit." Copps and the other Democratic commissioner, Jonathan Adelstein, have asked for a thirty-day delay in the vote, but Powell has the upper hand; he and two other Republican commissioners form a majority on the five-member FCC. The chairman will not win without a fight, however, as his decision to force a vote on rule changes that have not been broadly debated or analyzed has provoked a fierce response from the widest coalition of critics ever to weigh in on an FCC rule-making decision.


Powell's contempt for public opinion, evidenced by his scheduling of only one official hearing on the proposed rule changes, is so great that he refused invitations to nine semiofficial hearings at which other commissioners were present. The hearings drew thousands of citizens and close to universal condemnation of the rule changes. Likewise, an examination of roughly half the 18,000 public statements filed electronically with the FCC show that 97 percent of them oppose permitting more media concentration. Even media moguls Barry Diller and Ted Turner have raised objections, with Turner complaining, "There's really five companies that control 90 percent of what we read, see and hear. It's not healthy."


Outraged by Powell's antidemocratic approach, Common Cause has launched a national petition drive demanding a delay in the vote, while web activists at MoveOn.org are highlighting the issue in bulletins and calling on the "media corps" they organized to monitor media bias during the Iraq war to turn its energies toward stopping the FCC vote. Consumers Union and Free Press, a national media-reform network, have launched a letter-writing campaign to Congress and the FCC from www.mediareform.net. Local governments are also getting involved; the Chicago City Council urged rejection of the proposed changes in a resolution that declared: "Unchecked media consolidation benefits a small number of corporate interests at the expense of the public interest."


Noting that the consolidation of radio ownership that followed passage of the 1996 Telecommunications Act has proven disastrous for pop music, journalism and local communities, Bonnie Raitt, Billy Joel, Don Henley, Patti Smith, Pearl Jam and other musicians signed a letter telling Powell they were "extremely concerned as American citizens that increased concentration of media ownership will have a negative impact on access to diverse viewpoints and will impede the functioning of our democracy." Nearly 300 academics signed a letter to the FCC protesting Powell's refusal to allow an evaluation of the "research" he has talked of using to justify relaxing the media ownership rules. The national associations of Hispanic and black journalists called on the FCC to delay action until more study of threats to diversity could be completed. Leaders of the AFL-CIO, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, the Consumer Federation of America and many other groups argued that Powell had not allowed enough time to analyze the potential damage to democracy.


On Capitol Hill, nearly 100 House Democrats signed a letter by Representatives Bernie Sanders, Maurice Hinchey and Sherrod Brown calling on Powell to delay the June 2 vote on the rules, open the process to public comment and demonstrate how his proposed changes in ownership limits will serve the public interest by promoting diversity, competition and localism. Fifteen senators, led by Maine Republican Olympia Snowe, declared in a letter to the FCC: "We believe it is virtually impossible to serve the public interest in this extremely important and highly complex proceeding without letting the public know about and comment on the changes you intend to make to these critical rules."


The stirrings in Congress prodded the Bush Administration and its allies. Commerce Secretary Don Evans urged Powell to proceed with the June 2 vote regardless of the opposition, and business-friendly members of the House echoed that call. But the political climate surrounding media ownership has become so electric that nothing should be taken for granted. Twelve of the fifteen senators who signed the Snowe letter to Powell are members of the Commerce Committee, and committee chair John McCain – though he did not sign the letter – has overseen three recent hearings at which sharp criticisms of FCC moves promoting media consolidation were raised both by Democratic and Republican senators. McCain says he will call the FCC commissioners to a hearing after June 2, and he may yet join efforts to have Congress renew at least some of the rules. In addition, Senate Appropriations Committee chair Ted Stevens and David Obey, the ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, are making noises about having Congress step in to defend controls against monopoly. Even if Powell prevails on June 2, the tempest will continue to grow. He may ultimately be remembered not for loosening the rules but for pushing so hard he woke America up, forcing public-interest concerns back into the debate over media ownership.


John Nichols, The Nation's Washington correspondent, has covered progressive politics and activism in the United States and abroad for more than a decade.


Robert W. McChesney, who teaches at the University of Illinois, is the author of "Rich Media, Poor Democracy" (New Press) and, with John Nichols, of "It's the Media, Stupid" (Seven Stories).
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Old 05-20-2003, 08:36 AM   #8
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I heard about this on NPR yesterday and I am very sickened. That's all we need in this already propagandist news market. ugh. I will look into contacting whomever I can, but it's hard not to feel like one is being sold down the river by the government one is supposed to be able to "trust."
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Old 05-21-2003, 01:30 AM   #9
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Mmf. Yeah, well, happens everywhere, doesn't it. Sigh.

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Old 05-21-2003, 01:47 AM   #10
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information overload monopolized propoganda
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Old 06-02-2003, 12:28 PM   #11
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what a disgrace

http://www.boston.com/news/daily/02/fcc_rules.htm

FCC relaxes media ownership rules
Allows companies to own more outlets in the same city

By David Ho, Associated Press, 6/2/03

RELATED COVERAGE

A look at the FCC rules changes


WASHINGTON -- Federal regulators relaxed decades-old rules restricting media ownership Monday, permitting companies to buy more television stations and own a newspaper and a broadcast outlet in the same city.

The Republican-controlled Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 -- along party lines -- to adopt a series of changes favored by media companies.

These companies argued that existing ownership rules were outmoded on a media landscape that has been substantially altered by cable TV, satellite broadcasts and the Internet.

Critics say the eased restrictions would likely lead to a wave of mergers landing a few giant media companies in control of even more of what the public sees, hears and reads.

The decision was a victory for FCC Chairman Michael Powell, who has faced growing criticism from diverse interests opposed to his move toward deregulation.

"Our actions will advance our goals of diversity and localism," Powell said. He said the old restrictions were too outdated to survive legal challenges and the FCC "wrote rules to match the times."

The FCC said a single company can now own TV stations that reach 45 percent of U.S. households instead of 35 percent. The major networks wanted the cap eliminated, while smaller broadcasters said a higher cap would allow the networks to gobble up stations and take away local control of programming.

The FCC largely ended a ban on joint ownership of a newspaper and a broadcast station in the same city. The provision lifts all "cross-ownership" restrictions in markets with nine or more TV stations. Smaller markets would face some limits and cross-ownership would be banned in markets with three or fewer TV stations.

The agency also eased rules governing local TV ownership so one company can own two television stations in more markets and three stations in the largest cities such as New York and Los Angeles.

The FCC kept a ban on mergers among the four major TV networks: ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox.

"The more you dig into this order the worse things get," said Michael Copps, one of the commission's Democrats. He said the changes empowers "a new media elite" to control news and entertainment.

Fellow Democrat Jonathan Adelstein said the changes are "likely to damage the media landscape for decades to come."

The Democrats said the new rules mean a single company can own in one city up to three TV stations, eight radio stations, the cable TV system, cable TV stations and the only daily newspaper.


The rule changes are expected to face court challenges from media companies wanting more deregulation and consumer groups seeking stricter restrictions.

The FCC also changed how local radio markets are defined to correct a problem that has allowed companies to exceed ownership limits in some areas.

The government adopted the ownership rules between 1941 and 1975 to encourage competition and prevent monopoly control of the media.

A 1996 law requires the FCC to study ownership rules every two years and repeal or modify regulations determined to be no longer in the public interest. Many previous proposed changes were unfinished or were sent back to the FCC after court challenges.

As the vote approached, opposition intensified. Critics bought television and newspaper ads, wrote letters and e-mails, and demonstrated outside television stations owned by major media companies.

Some ads took on Rupert Murdoch, whose News Corp. owns Fox News Channel, 20th Century Fox TV and film studios, the New York Post and other media properties. Murdoch told a Senate committee last month he has no plan for a media buying spree after the changes, other than his proposed acquisition of DirecTV, the nation's largest satellite television provider.

The critics of eased rules include consumer advocates, civil rights and religious groups, small broadcasters, writers, musicians, academicians and the National Rifle Association. They say most people still get news mainly from
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Old 06-02-2003, 08:51 PM   #12
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This is total crap!
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Old 06-02-2003, 11:24 PM   #13
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This really stinks... I want to know where my state representatives stand on this... As if I have to ask. There is still an election coming up. My local station just reported the small local channels will fall by the wayside if these "monster" corporation owners decide fill it up the time slots with Fox tv news type programs. Curious to see just how many channels dissappear over the next weeks/months. Government run media, didn't we just try to free a country from this?
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Old 06-03-2003, 03:14 AM   #14
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This is so bad the NRA, the NOW, and the Parent for Responsible Programing were against it. 150 members of Congress asked the FCC to slow down the decision and to top it off, the new rules weren't available to the commission until last week and to the public or press until today. Needless to say the press had a hard time at the press conference because they were trying to read it and ask question.
Over 3.5 million consumers registered serious concerns and 99.9% were against further media consolidation.

To put a face on this: I live an hour south of Cleveland so I get 4 tv stations, technically I can also recieve 4 Columbus stations (though I can't because I can't get cable as it's too rural, but the signal is there somewhere over the hill). That makes my small town in a position that will allow one company to buy 2 tv stations in Cleveland and 2 in Columbus cause they reach farther south, my local newspaper, and Clear Channel who owns 8 stations in my town can be the one to do this.

To the conservatives in this forum & my hubby Republican husband: suppose I owned Clear Channel and I were a socialist, I could hire news reporters that just had that tiny slant, a word here or there, I could control the news most hear, especially people at or under the poverty level. I could cast doubt on everything Bush does (this is the the position of the majority that didn't vote for him). Of course the reality is the opposite. They want tax breaks, more control, and less interference and they got them. Believe me this isn't a partisan request.
Back ti the other scenario, now I start hiring reporters that believe as I do, I print only liberal op-ed editorials, I fire 2/3s of the broadcast employees because I'm recording it all in Cleveland and changing 1 or 2 stories for Columbus. Course there's still the "anchors" (see ET). This is reality. Whether you are conservative or liberal, this should be of major concern. More so if you are a parent. The new rules don't require childrens programming except by the %. Nothing about quality. Your children may lose education for Powder Puff Girls. In fact in markets where there has been consolidation CP has decreased by 40% and the educational value by 70%.
This is exactly what deregulation of radio has caused. 3 or 4 corporations, depending how you see it own 95% of the radio stations. This has eliminated local news, local programming, and new artists accessibility to playtime. We get 1 or 2 minutes of local news a day. One of my sons classmate's father works for the local newspaper and consults at the the Clear Channel stations. He gives 2 minutes of local news a day that is on all CC channels all day long. The most local news we get is school closings because of snow.

I've personnally called my local Adult Contemporary/ top 40 station during supposedly request lunch and have not been able to have 1 song played. Many of those were U2 back catalogs, even this supposed local request hour was prerecorded and disseminated across the state if not farther.

Clear Channel owns 8 out of 10 radio stations that come in consistently on my FM dial and all 3 of the the AM stations.

If you don't want further corporate governing of our country, please write your Congressmen and Senators. Money is the driving force in our country, please don't allow a wealthy few to control all we see and hear. There are bills currently in commitee to counteract the FCC's rulings.
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Old 06-03-2003, 06:36 AM   #15
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I was watching a forum that was aired on CSPAN about this during the late part of last week. The members of the forum were made up of a variety of people, including a couple members of the FCC. ALL were against this. The forum was quite informative.
At the end, the FCC people stated that in spite of the turnout, and the hundreds of thousands of emails, letters, postcards, etc. that had been recieved by the FCC and others thanks to MoveOn and other organizations they had to state that it most likely would NOT matter to the powers that be. They said that public opinion didn't matter to the ones that were going to vote. They also said that that was a very sad state of affairs.
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