Wednesday, June 28, 2006

There They Go Again: Time to Stop the FCC

The Federal Communications Commission and industry lobbyists are trying to let huge media companies get even bigger by resurrecting the same rule changes that millions of Americans rejected in 2003.

Last week, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin began the process of relaxing ownership rules. If he prevails, we will see the further demise of local news, independent voices and critical journalism.

In 2003, your letters and calls stopped this nonsense. Now we need to do it again.

Tell the FCC that Big Media is Big Enough

This is the first step in Chairman Martin's calculated effort to gut some of the last remaining limits on media ownership.

When the FCC last tried to change these rules under then-Chairman Michael Powell, some 3 million people contacted the FCC and Congress to oppose the action. The rule changes were later overturned by the courts, sending the FCC back to the drawing board.

Now Chairman Martin -- backed by the biggest media giants -- is angling to eliminate the newspaper-broadcast "cross-ownership" ban that prevents a single conglomerate from owning the major daily newspaper as well as radio and TV stations in a single market. And he wants to lift local ownership caps on how many TV stations one company can own in your town.

If these rule changes were approved, one company could own the major paper, eight radio stations and three television stations in the same city.

A handful of huge companies already control nearly all of the media in America. Such concentration destroys local news, sidelines dissenting views, and stifles competition. When we allow one company to own everything, we lose the diversity of views that is the lifeblood of our democracy.

Take Action To Stop Big Media: Send Your Comments to the FCC

Today, a diverse alliance of groups launched the Coalition to make sure that the public voice is heard before Washington policymakers sell what's left of the local and independent media.

The only way we'll win is to flood the FCC docket with more than a million public comments opposing further media consolidation.

Your action today makes a difference.


Robert W. McChesney
Free Press

Help get a million public comments into the FCC. Forward this email to five friends and ask them to take action now.

For more on what's at stake, read FCC Commissioner Michael Copps' commentary in the Financial Times

"The really scary part is that matters could get much worse. Today, the Federal Communications Commission will begin a wholesale revision of the nations media ownership rules. These limit how many television stations, radio stations and newspapers one company can own in a single market. Three years ago, against my objections, the FCC tried radically to loosen its rules. Thankfully, a federal court sent these ill-advised rules back to us. Now we have a second chance to get them right. But it will take concerted citizen action to check big medias hunger for still more consolidation.

As for the internet, we desperately need so-called net neutrality rules. These would prohibit broadband providers from giving preferential treatment to information and data based upon its source. The creators of the open internet never envisaged it being littered with gates and toll-booths. Anyone expecting the internet to reverse media consolidation should understand that it is heading down the very same road.

The fight against consolidation is not liberal versus conservative or red state versus blue. It is a grassroots, all-American campaign to preserve the very democracy that de Tocqueville saw in America. Every citizen is a stakeholder in the outcome and every citizen should be part of the decision-making."



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