"This is a big deal because we have way too much concentration of media ownership in the United States," Senator Byron Dorgan (ND, Dem.) said at a hearing on Wednesday. "If the [FCC] chairman intends to do something by the end of the year," Dorgan boomed, " then there will be a firestorm of protest and I'm going to be carrying the wood."
In 2003, millions of people--across partisan lines--from the NRA to CodePink stood tall to reclaim the airwaves for democracy--telling Congress and the FCC that they did not want to live in informational company towns where one media conglomerate might own all the media. The backlash hit the FCC like a tidal wave--and it seemed, for once, that the forces of democracy and diversity were winning. It is that force that needs to recreate itself--and grow in this perilous period--in order to stop the FCC's anti-democratic and destructive step.
Good citizens are not alone. They have, in FCC Commissioner Michael Copps, a stalwart ally who has stated his adamant opposition to this move. In a letter published in the Washington Post last month, Copps wrote eloquently of the importance of fighting media consolidation in the context of media minority ownership and, specifically, how it related to the Jena 6 case. Referring to Eugene Robinson's invaluable column, "Drive Time for the Jena 6," which rightly concluded that black radio hosts played a vital role in bringing attention to what happened in Jena, La., Copps write that "these radio hosts are to be commended. But I worry, " he added, " that as the media grow ever more consolidated, they are doing less and less to serve people of color.
He went on: "Last week in Chicago, I heard passionate testimony during an eight-hour Federal Communications Commission hearing on minority media ownership. Many people of color are tired of big media ignoring their concerns, distorting their contributions to society and caricaturing them as individuals. One reason is the lack of minority media onwership. A Free Press study says that while racial and ethnic minorities are more than 30 percent of the US population, they own just 3.26 percent of all commerical broadcast television stations and 7.7 percent of full -power radio stations, This is a national disgrace." Copps is right. Instead of the FCC allowing huge media conglomerates to grow even bigger--which this deregulatory step would lead to--it should act on proposals to increase minority ownership.