NWU Puts Out Call to Protect Media Diversity
Deadline: November 23, 2002
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is engaged in a comprehensive review of regulations concerning the ownership of broadcast outlets — that is, radio and TV stations and networks. As Commissioner Michael J. Copps points out in a statement accompanying the FCC's Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, "There is the potential in the ultimate disposition of this issue to remake our entire media landscape, for getter or for worse....At stake is...the opportunity to hear and be heard;...the opportunity for jobs and careers in our media industries; and the opportunity to make this country as open and diverse and creative as it can possibly be."
Unfortunately, the majority of the FCC commissioners do not share Copps's views; the majority favors deregulation. In the absence of a huge public outcry, we can expect the FCC to remove virtually all of the remaining ownership regulations, such as those that keep a single TV network from owning stations that broadcast to more than 35% of the nation's homes, or a single company from owning more than eight radio stations in the same market.
We've already seen — in the mass media and in our wallets— the effects of allowing mergers and acquisitions that have crushed enough independent television stations so that now 79% of commercial television stations get the bulk of their news, opinions, and entertainment programming from a national network, to give but one example.
You know what it means to you as a creator and contributor to our nation's culture to have ever fewer markets where you can sell your work. You know how crucial to a vibrant democracy it is to have outlets for diverse points of view. Now it's time to let the FCC know what you know.
Write to the FCC to say that removing the few remaining regulations would be hostile to the FCC's stated policy goals of diversity, competition, and local ownership. Point out that monopoly stifles innovation and debate.
The FCC is going through the motions of looking for public comment. If we do nothing, they will hear only from the AOL/Time Warners of the world, those who care only for their own profits and stock prices. If that happens, our ability to earn our livings will be even more compromised, and our voices will cease to be heard.