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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Media Consolidation

posted by on November 22 at 16:10 PM

Mark your calendars.

There’s a public hearing at the downtown library next Thursday on the FCC’s new proposal to lift the cap on how many media outlets a single company can own in one market.

Sen. Cantwell, Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WA) and FCC Commissioners Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein will be on hand.

FCC Hearing to be held in Seattle 6:00 9:00 pm Thursday, Nov. 30 2006 Seattle Public Library 4th and Madison, downtown Seattle. The FCC’s existing media ownership rules include a cap on national TV ownership, currently around 39% of the national market, and they want to raise the cap. Think about what it would mean to news if our local radio, TV and daily newspapers were owned by the same company.

Attend the hearing, bring colleagues, friends and family
Testify at the hearing; everyone will have 2 minutes to comment.
Write to the FCC send a letter before December 31st. In 2002-2003 we beat back the FCC by sending over 3 million comments to them
Write to your members of Congress. Tell the new Congress that you value a fair and free media as essential to the workings of true democracy

This is one of 6 public hearings that’s taking place around the country. (Props to Senator Cantwell for getting one of the hearings to happen here in Seattle.)

RSS icon Comments


In all seriousness, why do I care if I get all my news on the internet?

I'm inclined to agree, but I'm looking for reason. I'm open to reason.

Posted by Y Generation | November 22, 2006 4:26 PM

Note that twice, now, we have discovered that the FCC suppressed the results of its own studies on media consolidation after finding that results did not support the FCC's position that media consolidation is good for us.

Stop big media!

Posted by Phil | November 22, 2006 4:32 PM

Y Generation,
1) Internet providers are owned by big Telecom companies, and those companies...AT&T...can certainly get in on the media ownership game. So, the Internet is hardly safe from media consolidation. Read up on Net Neutrality, YG... current rules allow big Internet providers to discriminate against smaller content providers in terms of distribution.
2) You, Y Generation, may be a savvy and discerning Internet news hound, but a lot of folks aren't. And so, while you're well-armed with diverse, independent analysis, others—the majority of others, who can out-vote people like you at election time—are not. Soooo, don't you want those folks exposed to as many different sources as possible...rather than one giant media corp?

Posted by Josh Feit | November 22, 2006 4:33 PM

Right on, Josh.

Quoting from, here's what's at stake:

  • Big Media stifle viewpoints: If a corporation like News Corp. can buy multiple media outlets in a single city or town, it gains immense influence over what information is available. Consolidated corporations strip local newsrooms of staff, while pushing aside competing points of view. That means less diversity of voices and a narrower range of debate.

  • Big Media don't serve local communities: In exchange for their free and exclusive use of the public airwaves, broadcasters such as Sinclair are supposed to serve the public interest. Yet they frequently ignore important local issues, pander to sensationalism, provide biased coverage of elections, and stifle diverse viewpoints.

  • Big Media ignore diversity: Corporate media conglomerates like Tribune Company are more concerned with profits than responsible programming. Coverage of issues important to people of color, the working class and rural citizens are squelched or ignored because these people aren't advertisers' target audiences.

And these are the costs of consolidation:

  • A handful of media companies dominate what you watch on television. As their influence spreads to other outlets, the diversity of what you see diminishes.

    Five media conglomerates ¿ Viacom, Disney, Time Warner, News Corp. and NBC/GE ¿ control the big four networks (70 percent of the primetime television market share), most cable channels, as well as vast holdings in radio, publishing, movie studios, music, Internet and other sectors. (To learn more, visit's ownership charts)

    Minority ownership ¿ a crucial source of diverse and varied viewpoints -- is at a 10-year low, down 14% since 1997. Today, only 1.9% of television stations are minority-owned.

  • Media conglomerates now stand to make incredible new profits from the public airwaves with no accountability to the public interest.

    Over the next few years, television conglomerates will begin broadcasting digitally. This means that in the space it used to take to broadcast the local affiliate of ABC, NBC or CBS, these corporations will now be able to fit six or more stations ¿ ABC-1, ABC-2, and so on. This opens up countless new revenue streams, and indeed, plans are already in the works to have infomercial-driven new channels pump up corporate profits.

    The total worth of the publicly owned airwaves that U.S. broadcasters utilize has been valued at $367 billion -- more than the GDP of many nations ¿ but the public has never been paid a dime in return. Now, these conglomerates claim they can't afford to be accountable to the public interest.

  • Media consolidation has stifled independent voices and threatened public access to information.

    Consolidation is killing local media choices. Since 1975, two-thirds of independent newspaper owners have disappeared, and one-third of independent television owners have vanished. Only 281 of the nation's 1,500 daily newspapers remain independently owned, and more than half of all U.S. markets are dominated by one paper.

    Moreover, the number of radio station owners has plummeted by 34 percent since 1996, when ownership rules were gutted. That year, the largest radio owners controlled fewer than 65 stations; today, radio giant Clear Channel alone owns more than 1,200.

  • If the current ownership rules are eliminated, local communites will be turned into "company towns," where one media conglomerate dominates the public discourse.

    Big Media wants the FCC to lift the restrictions on newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership and allow one company to own two or more television stations in a single market. If the rules are changed, the largest conglomerates will immediately begin swapping newspaper and television properties. Then the radio giants like Clear Channel will begin selling off their already consolidated radio holdings for billions to the other dominant companies, creating local and regional media fiefdoms.

    If FCC Chairman Kevin Martin tries to push through changes similar to those rejected in 2003, one company could potentially own the major daily newspaper, eight radio stations and three television stations in the same town. Once the digital television transition is completed in 2009 ¿ allowing stations to broadcast multiple signals ¿ one company could control 12 or even 18 television channels in a single city.

Posted by Phil | November 22, 2006 4:48 PM

Also important to note: this is not an "official" FCC Commission hearing, as only the two Democratic commissioners, Copps and Adelstein will be in attendance.

Still, any testimony presented will be taken into consideration during the full Commission's deliberations.

Posted by COMTE | November 22, 2006 6:45 PM

Ok, I see its importance.

Posted by Y Generation | November 23, 2006 1:56 AM

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