FCC Media Ownership Rules

FCC Media Ownership Rules

The FCC is about to start the process of rewriting the media ownership rules again. One of my media friends e-mailed me about a campaign run by hearusnow.org, a project of Consumers Union. They are urging the public to send a form letter to the FCC and the White House. I can’t stand e-mailing form letters, so I wrote an e-mail of my own. Not exactly my best writing:

“Originally contained in public utility law, the phrase “public interest, convenience and necessity” was incorporated into the Radio Act of 1927 and the Communications Act of 1934.

I do not think that the ownership of massive amounts of radio stations by group owners such as Infinity and Clear Channel is in the ‘public interest’. This is especially true in the case of Clear Channel, which also owns SFX Entertainment – a talent representative and major national concert promoter. Companies such as Infinity and Clear Channel now hove far too much control in what we hear on the radio and (if you’re a rock fan) what concerts we can see in our local venues. It also amazes me that here in the New York City area, both all-news radio stations are owned by Infinity. So much for diverse voices !

The same problems now exist to a lesser extent with television networks as well. The ownership cap has snuck up from 25% to 35% to 39%.

The large radio and television station groups are all doing well financially. Let’s not make it easy for them to buy up all of our country’s large, profitable stations, leaving the Mom and Pop ‘runt of the litter’ stations to go bankrupt and have their licenses bought by group owners who will pipe in programming by satellite and have no local presence.

Yes, owners should be allowed to make a profit. But the Communications Act says “public interest” not private interest. You have a chance to preserve the freedom of speech and the diversity of opinions that keep our country great and free. Yes, anyone can buy a printing press or start a blog, but not everyone can have a radio or television station. Until over-the-air broadcasting goes away completely, you have an obligation to multiply the voices heard and seen on our nations licensed frequencies.”