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Deadline Nears for Comments on Ownership Restrictions

Oct 20, 2006  •  Post A Comment

The debate over whether the Federal Communications Commission should ease media ownership rules is being played out in filings with the commission as Monday’s initial deadline for comments approaches.

In filings late this week, the Progress and Freedom Foundation and the Media Institute suggested that the FCC ease its rules while some consumer and writers groups reiterated their opposition to an easing.

In one set of comments, Adam Thierer, senior fellow at the Progress and Freedom Foundation, cited a series of “myths” about the impact of consolidation, including one that diversity will suffer and niche and minority audiences won’t have access to news, information or entertainment they want or need.

“Today’s media environment is more diverse than ever before and is characterized by information abundance, not information scarcity,” he said in his comments. He also termed “a myth” the suggestion that media ownership concentration is giving a few companies control, saying in truth the media marketplace “is vigorously competitive.”

The Media Institute urged the repeal of the FCC’s current broadcast/newspaper cross-ownership ban in an individual market and allowing media companies to own additional radio stations in a market.

The Caucus for Television Producers, Writers & Directors, meanwhile, urged that the FCC adopt a new rule that 25 percent of all TV programs be independently produced and owned by an independent source.

“Small businesses that independently produce programming are being driven under by the ownership rules,” said the group. “Congress and the FCC need to ensure that anyone, regardless of where they are from, has a shot at telling their American story. So we can all better understand our American story.”