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Obama, Dingell Weigh in Against Fast-Tracking Media Ownership Review

Oct 22, 2007  •  Post A Comment

Negative congressional reaction is growing to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin J. Martin’s push to finish a review of media ownership rules by year end.
Today both Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., and House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., suggested the quick timeline detailed last week short-circuits a thorough review of the issues. Among the issues they cited were the potential impact losing local ownership of stations could have in a community and the impact that consolidation might have on the economics for minority-owned newspapers and radio stations.
Sen. Obama, in a letter to Mr. Martin, called both the proposed timeline and the process offered to finish the review “irresponsible.” That timetable calls for the FCC to hold a hearing on media ownership and a hearing on the local ownership issues, issue a report and publish proposed rule changes by Nov. 13, with a vote on the rules in December.
Sen. Obama said the FCC hasn’t set diversity goals or needs “and, as a result, it is in no position to justify allowing for increased consolidation of the market.”
He also complained about leaks suggesting the FCC is likely to ease media ownership rules.
“I object to the agency moving forward to allow greater consolidation in the media market without first fully understanding how that would limit opportunities for minority, small business and women-owned firms,” he said in the letter.
“I ask you to reconsider your proposed timeline, put out any specific change to the rules for public comment and review, move to establish an independent panel on minority and small business media ownership, and complete a proceeding on the responsibilities that broadcasters have to the communities in which they operate” before moving forward, he said.
A spokesman for the FCC declined comment on the letter.
Separately, Rep. Dingell in a statement urged the FCC “not to rush to judgment.”
“Issues of this magnitude and importance deserve nothing less than the full and measured consideration of the chairman and commissioners,” Rep. Dingell said.
“It is my sincere hope that the commission will allow reasonable time for evaluation of the public input received on its media ownership studies and at all of its public hearings before finalizing rules. It is also important that the commission release proposed rules and then allow sufficient time for comment on them before taking final action,” he said.
The latest comments follow a letter last week from Sens. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., and Trent Lott, R-Miss., expressing concern about the schedule. The ownership issue appears likely to attract some of the same controversy the FCC’s last attempt at rewriting rules drew in Congress.

8 Comments

  1. I do some work with NAB, and I agree that minority ownership is an issue that needs to be addressed. But I think free market competition is equally as important. So, what is the best option?
    Congress should revive a program that provides tax incentives to media companies that sell properties to minorities. Broadcasters should also continue to finance minority career development programs.
    I also think the market is already addressing minority concerns. The Jena 6 case reinforced the notion that black radio has tremendous reach, and any owner concerned about the bottom-line will cater to that demographic.

  2. I do some work with NAB, and I agree that minority ownership is an issue that needs to be addressed. But I think free market competition is equally as important. So, what is the best option?
    Congress should revive a program that provides tax incentives to media companies that sell properties to minorities. Broadcasters should also continue to finance minority career development programs.
    I also think the market is already addressing minority concerns. The Jena 6 case reinforced the notion that black radio has tremendous reach, and any owner concerned about the bottom-line will cater to that demographic.

  3. Well to start with, I am only going to use one identity to post my opinion> See above…
    The main thing is I have a long memory in the business, and when the ownership rules were tightly limited, we actually had competition between stations in a given market, resulting in more effort in programming, sports, news, and other aspects. So what do we have now? Major markets combining staffs and facilities; so the flattening and blandizing of local TV is the result. Is this what is best for the public? I think not!

  4. Consolidation had made media ownership worse off for EVERYONE. Makes no difference what industry. If you are in any form of media, it had gotten “bare boned” for workers. I currently “do” 49 tasks a week. Most of them do not reflect what my “contract”, now obsolete, had said my job title was [and maybe still might be].
    As for TV, I don’t care. In 2 years, I won’t be able to see it. I have DTV tuners, but cannot get a signal, living in the center of my market (or city of licenses). I keep getting ‘dropouts’ while watching. Landlords don’t have punishments for not letting me out antennas outside, per “1996 Telecomminications Act” and it’s ammendments in 1999 and 2002.
    It is my opinion that the FCC needs to be overhauled COMPLETELY. Seems most decisions they made are NOT in the public interest. FGolks like me in the industry are tired of lawmakers making the new “WALMART” for us underpaid, ununioned workers, who have no rights.
    Toledo, Ohio Non-Union Broadcaster

  5. “Red Blanchard,” I accidentally posted twice — I thought my comments didn’t register the first time.
    In response to your comments, I think loosening the ownership rules actually leads to more diversity. If you have six stations competing against each other in one market, they’re all going to play the most popular content.
    But if a few stations become part of one corporate family, they’re not going to play the same content. They’re going to diversify.
    Slate actually had a great article about this. I think you’d really enjoy it — http://www.slate.com/id/2157395/

  6. Coho you used two names before, so don’t give me this ‘accident’ stuff. Anyway your theory that mass ownership gives more diversity sounds like the twilight zone. And with that I regretfully resign from this thread…

  7. Dreamin. I love blogging. You all express your feelings the right way, because they are your feeling, focus on your blog it is great.

  8. Keep focusing on your blog. I love how we can all express our feelings. This is an extremely nice blog here 🙂

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