Last updated: February 21, 2008 - 4:22am
GROUPS WEIGH IN TO FCC ON MEDIA OWNERSHIP
[SOURCE: TVWeek, AUTHOR: Ira Teinowitz]
Broadcasters on Monday urged the Federal Communications Commission to recognize how competition has changed over the past 30 years and ease media ownership rules, while consumer groups said changes aren't warranted. In an outpouring of filings on the last date the FCC is to accept comments on its media ownership rule re-examination, all sides are pulling out all the stops. The National Association of Broadcasters contended that TV stations' deteriorating financial condition threatens their viability and that FCC rules restricting duopolies fails to take account of other competition and called a rule preventing companies from owning newspapers and broadcasters in a market "anachronistic." The group suggested many current FCC rules no longer rest on a firm foundation. "In a multi-channel environment dominated by consolidated cable and satellite system operators, broadcasters are clearly unable to obtain and exercise any undue market power," NAB said in its filing. "For this reason, the traditional rationale for maintaining a regulatory regime applicable only to local broadcasters and not their competitors is not a proper basis for keeping the current rules." It urged the FCC to "structure its local ownership rules so that traditional broadcasters and newer programming distributors can all compete on an equitable playing field" and ease rules so that markets of all sizes can more easily form duopolies. Consumer groups warned an easing would lead to a "dumbing down" of the public, arguing that an appellate court ruling they won that forced the FCC re-examination makes clear the FCC's duty is to ease rules only if doing so can clearly be shown to be in the public interest. "The commission should not simply consider the effects on the industry's competitive edge in the marketplace. Rather, the commission must place a greater emphasis on whether the public is actually being served by a diversity of voices," said a filing from a coalition of the Prometheus Radio Project, Common Cause, the Media Alliance and the Center for Digital Democracy, among other groups. "It is imperative that the commission seriously weigh the benefits of the current rules to employ a diversity of voices." Consumers Union, the Consumer Federation of American and Free Press in a separate filing said that despite changes in technology, "Most people still rely on their local newspapers and local television stations as their most important sources of local news." The groups said those sources have a disproportionate impact on public opinion and that their further consolidation would be "highly problematic."
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* Watchdog Groups Lobby FCC On Media Ownership Issue
[SOURCE: Technology Daily 10/23, AUTHOR: Andrew Noyes]
* Old Media Urge FCC to Ease Ownership Rules
CONSUMER GROUPS TO FCC: FURTHER MEDIA CONSOLIDATION THREATENS DEMOCRACY
[SOURCE: FreePress, Consumers Union, Consumer Federation of America]
Consumer groups emphasized the critical link between democracy and an open and independent media in detailed comments filed with the Federal Communications Commission today on a proposed loosening of media ownership rules. In more than 800 pages of comments and studies submitted by Consumers Union, Consumer Federation of America, and Free Press, the groups urged the FCC to adopt media ownership rules that encourage diverse viewpoints and ensure access to competitive, independent sources of local news and information. "Our data blows holes in past FCC arguments for loosening media ownership limits. The facts are straightforward. A vast majority of Americans still rely on locally owned television stations and newspapers as their most important source for local news and information. Cable and Internet are no substitutes," said Gene Kimmelman, vice president for federal and international policy for Consumers Union. Studies submitted as part of the detailed comments show that in markets with fewer dominant media companies, independent and local media outlets competing against each other are more likely to air diverse opinions and provide more ownership opportunities for minorities.
* Public Needs Diverse and Competitive Sources for Local News and Information
* Compendium of Public Interest Research on Media Ownership, Diversity and Localism
See also --
* Groups: Consolidation 'Threatens Democracy'
MEDIA ACCESS PROJECT AND DIVERSE COALITION URGE FCC TO KEEP OWNERSHIP LIMITS
[SOURCE: Media Access Project]
Media Access Project and a coalition of public interest, media reform and community media advocates, today filed comments in the FCCâ€™s broadcast ownership proceeding, urging the Commission to protect localism and diversity by retaining the current broadcast ownership limits. Parul Desai, Assistant Director of Media Access Project said, "Without the current rules, a small number of media executives will be in charge of deciding what information the public has a right to receive. How can one be expected to make knowledgeable choices and decisions about issues affecting their lives without a full range of relevant Information.â€ Members of the coalition include: Center for Creative Voices in Media, Center for Digital Democracy, CCTV Center for Media and Democracy, Common Cause, Media Alliance, National Hispanic Media Coalition, New America Foundation, Prometheus Radio Project, and U.S. Public Interest Research Groups.
* read the coalition's filed comments at:
COALITION ASKS FCC TO TIGHTEN OR MAINTAIN EXISTING BROADCAST OWNERSHIP LIMITS
[SOURCE: Office of Communication of the United Church of Christ et al.]
The Office of Communication of the United Church of Christ, Inc., National Organization for Women, Media Alliance, Common Cause, and Benton Foundation, urge the Commission to tighten or maintain existing broadcast ownership limits so as to increase opportunities for minorities and women to own broadcast stations and to best promote the public interest goals of diversity, localism, competition, and efficient use of the spectrum. The Coalition urged the Commission to make increasing opportunities for minorities and women to own broadcast stations a central focus of its proceeding. Increasing minority and female broadcast station ownership would serve the public interest in many ways. First, it would benefit the public by increasing the diversity of programming. Second, it would help to break down racial and gender stereotypes. Third, increasing the number of minority or women-owned stations would result in better service for underserved segments of the population. Finally, it would help remedy the past discrimination against both women and minorities in which the Commission has been at least a passive participant. Tightening the existing ownership limits and eliminating â€œgrandfatheringâ€ are among the most important steps the Commission could take to foster new entry by minorities and women. At a bare minimum, the FCC must ensure that discrimination based on race or gender does not occur in the sale of broadcast stations by adopting MMTCâ€™s Proposal for an equal opportunity transaction rule. The Commission must ensure that local television stations, newspapers, and radio stations are held by multiple, diverse owners. These media are the primary sources of news and information for the vast majority of the American public. Alternative information sources such as cable, Internet, and satellite provide little if any local news, although they may serve as additional platforms for the news gathered and produced by broadcast stations and newspapers. Additionally, a significant number of Americans do not have access to or cannot afford these alternative media sources.
CITING NBC U, HOLLYWOOD HAMMERS FCC
[SOURCE: Broadcasting&Cable, AUTHOR: John Eggerton]
In comments filed at the FCC on Monday, the Center for Creative Voices in Media argued that the Federal Communications Commission's "ill-considered" ownership policies are "harming competition, diversity of viewpoints and localism." "General Electric's recent announcement that it would reduce or eliminate scripted programming on its NBC network in the 8-9 p.m. hour of primetime is particularly illustrative of the unintended harmful consequences of FCC policy changes that have had the practical effect of eliminating independently-produced programming from the public's airwaves," the group argued. "Just two years ago, NBC's 8 p.m. hour block was home to Friends, a hugely popular hit produced by strong independent producers -- one of the few shows still running from the days when FCC policies properly protected the right of independents to access the network airwaves. " Now, says the group, "with GE/NBC taking advantage of FCC rule changes to eliminate independent producers and take over for itself the production of programming, NBC's own in-house studio has developed and produced few successful 8 p.m. scripted shows....[A]dmitting failure, NBC will forego scripted programming in the 8 p.m. hour, and replace it with game shows and so-called 'reality' programming -- some of the very programming that Newton Minow cited when he described television as a 'vast wasteland.'"
* FCC Media Ownership Policies Make Televisionâ€™s â€œVast Wastelandâ€ Even Vaster, Creative Voices Tells Commission
PFF FELLOW WARNS FCC OF 'MEDIA MYTHS'
[SOURCE: Progress and Freedom Foundation]
As the Federal Communications Commission embarks on a new proceeding reviewing media ownership rules, it must not fall under the spell of various "media myths" that have clouded the debate in the past. So warns Progress & Freedom Foundation Senior Fellow Adam Thierer. Two identified myths are 1) Diversity will suffer in an unregulated marketplace and 2) Localism will be ignored in an unregulated marketplace.
* Read Thierer's filed comments at http://www.pff.org/issues-pubs/filings/2006/thiererfilingin2006mediaownershipFNPRM.pdf
NAB: FCC MUST UNFETTER LOCAL BROADCASTERS
In its comments on the FCCâ€™s proposed ownership reform, the National Association of Broadcasters emphasized that the commission â€œhas a clear duty â€¦ to reevaluate the broadcast ownership rules to ensure they still serve the public interest in a rapidly changing media marketplace.â€ The NAB says the current rules do not serve the public and offered suggestions for change: 1) â€œThe commission should reform the television duopoly rule to reflect the current competitive television marketplace and allow more freely the formation of duopolies in markets of all sizes. Freely permitting local television duopolies is necessary to preserve and enhance television broadcastersâ€™ ability to serve their viewers and communities in markets of all sizes.â€ 2) â€œAs NAB has previously shown, the case for repealing the anachronistic ban on joint ownership of newspapers and broadcast outlets is clear and compelling. The ban inhibits the development of new innovative media services, especially on-line and digital services, and precludes struggling broadcast and newspaper entities, particularly those in smaller markets, from joining together to improve, or at least maintain, existing local news operations.â€ 3) â€œThe radio/television cross-ownership rule similarly does nothing to advance the public interest under current marketplace conditions. The rule is no longer needed to ensure diversity in local markets, but in its current form primarily serves to limit radio station ownership arbitrarily. With television and radio broadcasters facing unprecedented competition from cable, satellite television and radio, and audio and video Internet applications, a cross-ownership rule applicable only to local radio and television broadcast stations is inequitable and outdated." 4) â€œIn response to the commissionâ€™s request for comment on proposals to foster ownership of broadcast outlets by minorities, women and small businesses, NAB reiterates its long-held belief that the commission should pursue constitutionally sustainable programs to further opportunities for such groups. NAB recognizes that improving access to capital is key to this effort and suggests ways to achieve this goal, including reform of attribution and auction rules.â€
* See the NAB's comments at http://www.nab.org/xert/corpcomm/pressrel/102306_OwnershipFinal.pdf
HEARST-ARGYLE PROPOSES DUOPOLY VIEWER TEST
In comments on the FCCâ€™s review of its broadcast station ownership rules, Hearst-Argyle Television has proposed a new standard that would eliminate the existing â€œvoice countâ€ and â€œtop fourâ€ restrictions that require eight â€œvoicesâ€ or owners in a market and prohibit a combination of the marketâ€™s top four stations. The proposal substitutes, instead, an analog of antitrust law and analysis and is two-fold: 1) The Commission should permit common ownership of local television stations as long as the combinationâ€™s collective audience share is 30% or less,â€ and 2) â€œThe resulting concentration, together with the change in concentration of audience share, post-combination, must satisfy a standard that is grounded in the general standard â€¦ analog for audience share.â€ Hearst-Argyle told the FCC that â€œnotwithstanding claims to the contrary, never in history have viewers been afforded more choice in how to receive video programming or greater diversity in the programming available for viewing. Nor have local television markets ever been more competitive.
AFTRA MEMBERS MAKE STRONG CASE AGAINST FCC RELAXING MEDIA OWNERSHIP RULES
[SOURCE: American Federation of Television and Radio Artists]
Federal Communications Commissioners Jonathan Adelstein and Michael Copps heard from members of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists and other community members at a town hall meeting that focused on the impact of media consolidation on the news, information, and entertainment needs of communities of color. As a participant on the panel explored diversity in the media, AFTRA member and former Boston radio host "Coach" Willie Maye spoke about how the silencing of radio station WILD-FM destroyed a valuable media outlet, which serviced a minority community in Boston. â€œFor decades, WILD radio served as the voice of the Black community in Greater Boston through its unique mix of local programming, news, and music,â€ said Maye. â€œUnfortunately, this heritage urban voice was abruptly silenced last month as the current owners plan to sell the station to another radio corporation that is interested only in the transmitter to enhance the signal of one of their current stations. The Federal Communications Commission is currently evaluating not only the sale of WILD, but also the rules governing corporate ownership of the public airwaves. With the sale of WILD, we have seen first-hand the impact of radio ownership consolidation on our community.â€
OP SEEKS BROADCAST-OWNERSHIP CAP
[SOURCE: Multichannel News, AUTHOR: Ted Hearn]
Citing its recent clash with Sinclair Broadcast Group in West Virginia, cable operator Suddenlink Communications wants federal regulators to ensure that each of the top four TV stations in a local market has independent ownership or management. Suddenlink, in comments filed with the Federal Communications Commission Monday, said the common ownership of two or more top-ranked stations puts cable operators at a disadvantage in carriage negotiations.
STATIONS SAY REGULATION REVISE MEANS SURVIVAL
[SOURCE: Broadcasting&Cable, AUTHOR: John Eggerton]
TV station and group comments in the FCC media ownership review proceeding are increasingly taking on the character of SOS signals from companies claiming their very survival is at risk if ownership regulations are not loosened. The 111 TV stations making up the Smaller Market Broadcasters Coalition, in filings to the FCC Monday, argued that their stations are under siege and the FCC needs to allow TV duopolies in smaller markets or their news will continue to be cutback, and some stations may have to go dark altogether. Struggling stations, and certainly dark ones, are not the public servants the FCC wants them to be, they argue. Citing the drain on resources of the DTV transition and the continuing subdivision of the ad pie among competitors, the group says that the "public interest goals at issue in the proceeding cost money," and that financial viability is "therefore a necessary predicate to achieve them." In other words: Help!
* Old Media Urge FCC to Ease Ownership Rules
* In Digital Age, Big Media Still Wants Old-Media Properties
[SOURCE: TVWatch, AUTHOR: Wayne Friedman]
[Commentary] Media companies still want more old media. The FCC shouldn't give away the old store yet.
CBS: SAVE OUR SERVICE
[SOURCE: Broadcasting&Cable, AUTHOR: John Eggerton]
In its comments to the FCC Monday, CBS said the media ownership proceedings had gotten off to a "troubling start." In championing relaxation of the FCC's media ownership rules in their comments, CBS also argued that the FCC's initial media ownership hearing in L.A. had gotten off to a troubling start. The networks were hammered by producers for using their deregulatory status to squeeze out independents, leverage bigger cuts of a programs lucrative back end and quell creativity, they said. "The first public 'hearings' [CBS put the word in quotes] were filled with invective and emotion rather than fact and intellectually rigorous analysis," said CBS, and thus represented testimony that did not meet the "legal standard" for an "expert agency." CBS said the FCC should also not lose sight of what is at stake in the rule review, which, echoing NBC's comments, it said was nothing less than the preservation of local news, information and entertainment, "free to all Americans." CBS cited local broadcasting as a source of emergency information -- invoking Hurricane Katrina and 9/11 -- and a vital news link "infused with public interest responsibilities," whose loss would be tragic.
NAA URGES REPEAL OF CROSSOWNERSHIP BAN
In its comments to the FCC, the Newspaper Association of America urged it to repeal the newspaper/broadcast crossownership ban. â€œThis rule is a relic of the 1970â€™s -- a time when the Internet, satellite television and radio, cell phone, Wi-Fi and iPods were not even visible on the distant horizon,â€ said NAA president and CEO John F. Sturm. In its comments, NAA makes the following points: 1) Over the last three decades, and even in the last three years since the 2003 FCC rulemaking decision, the marketplace has become far more diverse, competitive and crowded with news and information voices. 2) Repeal of this rule means increased production of higher quality local news and public affairs programming. 3) Newspaper owners are committed to assuring the editorial autonomy of its newspapers and television stations.
* NAA press release
* Text of comments: http://www.naa.org/ppolicy/NAA_Media_Ownership_Remand_Comments.pdf
DISNEY DOESN'T SEEK OWNERSHIP RULE REVISE
[SOURCE: Broadcasting&Cable, AUTHOR: John Eggerton]
Disney isn't asking the FCC to loosen any of its ownership rules, saying it already has more than enough stations and is looking to using other platforms for content delivery. With its 10 owned stations covering not quite 24% of the nation, it is well below the national ownership cap of 39% -- although that cap is not on the table in the rule rewrite having already been legislated by Congress. What is definitely in play is owning more multiple stations in markets and owning a station and newspaper in the same market. "Given the increase in, and attractiveness of, new media outlets," Disney wrote in a brief filing in the FCC's media ownership rule review, "in Disney's view, the Commission may soon find itself considering ways to incent, rather than restrict, ownership of over-the-air broadcast stations."
CWA SAYS FCC RULES MUST PROTECT AND PROMOTE MEDIA DIVERSITY
[SOURCE: Communications Workers of America]
The Communications Workers of America filed comments in the latest FCC review regarding media ownership rules, urging the Commission to maintain remaining rules governing the diversity of local TV, radio and newspaper ownership. CWA continues to believe that the newspaper/broadcast cross-ownership rule provides the strongest protection against undue concentration in a local media market for news and information. However, should the Commission modify that rule, it must do so according to the methodology laid out by the Court in Prometheus to avoid excessive media concentration. If mergers are to be considered, the burden of proof must lie with the merging parties "to demonstrate that the combination is in the public interest; and with the requirement that the commonly owned media outlets maintain separate newsrooms and editorial staff," CWA states. Media corporations are crying wolf when they claim that they must merge to survive, CWA said, noting that newspapers continue to earn profits in the range of 20 percent and local TV stations earn profits of 40 to 50 percent. "This proceeding is of profound importance to American democracy," CWA's executive summary concludes. "It is imperative that the Commission adopt strong structural rules to protect and promote against further consolidation of the media into fewer hands, an outcome that would do serious harm to the free flow of ideas that is so essential to civic participation in our democracy."
See comments at: http://files.cwa-union.org/National/CommunicationsPolicy/Comments/061023.pdf
CATHOLIC BISHOPS URGE FCC TO RETAIN OWNERSHIP LIMITS
[SOURCE: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops]
The USCCB urges the Commission not only to retain current ownership limits, but to promulgate regulations to define digital television broadcasters' public interest obligations. Ownership of local broadcast stations by increasingly fewer companies over the past decades has ill served the needs and interests of the communities whose radio and television stations were licensed to serve, particularly their religious needs. This situation would be worsened if the already generous ownership regulations were loosened while there are no enforceable regulations defining how broadcast licensees must meet their statutory public interest obligations.
KIDTV ADVOCATES URGE FCC TO LIMIT TV STATION OWNERSHIP
[SOURCE: The Childrenâ€™s Media Policy Coalition]
The Childrenâ€™s Media Policy Coalition urges the Federal Communications Commission to limit local broadcasters to one license in a given market in order to ensure sufficient original programming for children. Research shows that media consolidation diminishes the diversity and availability of programming for the child audience. It is essential that young viewers have access to diverse viewpoints in the television programming they so readily consume; limiting broadcasters to one license will help to maximize the amount and diversity of educational and informational (E/I) programming for children. The Coalition also argues that any relaxation of existing rules be accompanied by a requirement that the Commission analyze, according to specific guidelines, the impact of any proposed media mergers on kids served by the market. The Coalition is concerned that relaxation of the ownership rules will reduce competition, stifling innovation and increasing commercialism in childrenâ€™s programming. Children are particularly vulnerable to influences of commercialism and the Commission must consider the effects of consolidation on advertising aimed at children, as well as the content of childrenâ€™s programs.
NAHJ ASKS FCC TO INCREASE MINORITY OWNERSHIP
[SOURCE: National Association of Hispanic Journalists]
The National Association of Hispanic Journalists submitted comments with the FCC opposing the agencyâ€™s effort to rewrite our nationâ€™s broadcast ownership regulations. In its filing, NAHJ stated that it opposed further media consolidation because of the impact it has on minority ownership and on communities of color. NAHJ called on the FCC to stop its current ownership proceedings and address how to increase minority broadcast ownership. NAHJ noted that the FCC currently has no policies in place to foster the growth of minority owners, meanwhile people of color currently make up 33 percent of the U.S. population. NAHJ also submitted all of its correspondence with the National Telecommunications and Information Agency. In April, NAHJ wrote to the NTIA and asked the agency whether it planned to conduct another minority ownership study. The last study the agency released was in 2000. In that study, the NTIA found that people of color make up just 3.8 percent of all broadcast owners and that media consolidation threatened the future of minority ownership. John Kneuer, the acting assistant secretary for the NTIA, wrote back to NAHJ and stated the agency had no current plans to conduct another study.
FOX CALLS FOR THE REMOVAL OF ALL FCC MEDIA OWNERSHIP RULES (EXCEPT FOR THE RULE FOX LIKES)
[SOURCE: Lasar's Letter on the FCC, AUTHOR: Matthew Lasar]
Arguing that the Internet has completely changed the media landscape, two Fox media companies have asked the FCC to eliminate its media ownership rules "once and for all." Except for the UHF discount on the national TV station ownership cap. Fox argues for elimination of the local TV ownership rule and the newspaper/broadcast station crossownership bans. "[T]he media marketplace of 2006 has become so robustly competitive," Fox Entertainment Group and Fox Television Holdings' October 23rd public filing concludes, "and offers so many diverse voices on subjects too numerous to count, that the broadcast ownership rules cannot possibly survive the scrutiny required by" law.
- Children Now Takes Issue With Waiver
- New York Newspaper takes Anti-Cross-Ownership Stand
- NTIA has No Plans to Conduct Minority Broadcast Ownership Study
- Iowans Petition To Deny KGAN License Renewal
- NAHJ Board Disturbed by NBC's Plans for Telemundo
- Three TV Groups to Ask for Kids TV Relief
- Today's Quote I 11.16.06
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- Media Ownership Fight gets Red Hot
- Broadcasters, Newspapers Encourage FCC To Reform Media Ownership
- Tribune Petitions FCC for Waiver
- Reports Bolster Argument that Media Consolidation Hurts the Public
- Broadcasters Ask FCC Not to Affirm Duop Rule
- FCC Flooded with Comments on Media Ownership
- VA senators back Media General on newspaper/TV cross-ownership rule