In 2003, an unprecedented groundswell of popular opposition killed then-Federal Communications Commission chairman Michael Powell’s efforts to eliminate rules that limit the ability of one corporation to monopolize all the media outlets in a given place.
But, once again, media-industry lobbyists and their allies on the FCC are working to revise the rules on media ownership to allow a single corporation to own most, if not all, of the newspapers, radio and TV stations and Internet news and entertainment sites in your town. Last June, new FCC chairman Kevin Martin issued a draft policy proposal — called a Further Notice of Proposed Rule Making — that kick-started Big Media’s latest attempt to weaken the rules protecting local voices, vibrant competition and diverse viewpoints.
Now the battle is on. Martin, a far more savvy politician than his predecessor, is keenly aware that Powell was roundly criticized in 2003 for trying to ram through radical regulatory changes with virtually no public input. So he has opened up the decision-making process somewhat and permitted hearings on the proposed policies nationwide. But Martin and the two Republican members of the commission have restricted their involvement to six public meetings, while pro-regulation commissioners Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein have hit the road to chair additional sessions. (The next official hearing with all five commissioners takes place on December 11 in Nashville, TN.)
On November 30, the Seattle Public Library will host a 6:00pm public hearing on media ownership with FCC Commissioners Copps and Adelstein. The hearing will help the FCC gather public comment as it considers revising its media-ownership rules. This is Seattle’s opportunity to weigh in on an issue critical to our culture and our democracy.
And everyone can weigh in by clicking here to file a public comment with the FCC registering your opposition to the lifting of the current media-ownership rules. (The final deadline for comment is December 21.) Also, check out the ReclaimTheMedia site for background on the FCC, for ways you can get involved in the fight for local and non-corporate media and for directions to the Seattle library.