GROUPS AGAINST MEDIA MERGER PROPOSALS - Amy Snider
Representatives of Common Cause and Move On.org met with Tampa Congressman Jim Davis today to voice their opposition to media merger proposals to be voted on by the Federal Communications Commission on June 2. WMNFÃ¢â¬â¢s Amy Snider has the story.
What do rock group Pearl Jam, the National Rifle Association, and the National Associations of Black and Hispanic Broadcasters have in common? They all oppose the Federal Communications CommissionÃ¢â¬â¢s proposal to lift bans which currently limit the number of television and radio stations a company can own in one market, and from owning a newspaper and a radio or television station in the same city. The FCC is scheduled to vote on these provisions on June 2.
Current rules were adopted to ensure diversity of opinion, and that the same company canÃ¢â¬â¢t control all of a marketÃ¢â¬â¢s media operations.
Peter Shea, of Common Cause and Move On.org, voiced his concerns about the FCC proposals.
Nancy Creedon, a childrenÃ¢â¬â¢sÃ¢â¬â¢ ministry coordinator for a Tampa church, and member of the WMNF Board Member, thinks that media is already too consolidated, and that the new FCC proposals can only worsen the situation.
ChildrenÃ¢â¬â¢sÃ¢â¬â¢ activists assert that the FCC has not looked at the effect of the proposed changes on childrenÃ¢â¬â¢s programming. None of the FCCÃ¢â¬â¢s 12 studies on the impact of the merger proposals examined the possible effects on children. The airwaves, childrenÃ¢â¬â¢sÃ¢â¬â¢ advocates say, are still public and thus, the FCC has a responsibility not to relinquish their responsibility to serve children.
Mike Fite is a retired postal worker, upset that the public at large does not know about the FCCÃ¢â¬â¢s plans.
Don Latshaw is in computer software.
Other issues discussed at the meeting were the problems already created by the consolidation of radio stations. Clearchannel Corporation was discussed specifically, both in terms of their generating pro-war rallies, as well as the impact Clearchannel has on stifling the diversity of the music heard on the radio. When musicians refuse to play concerts at venues owned by Clearchannel, their music is not played on Clearchannel radio stations. Not a problem for big stars like Bruce Springsteen, but an overwhelming obstacle for less known performers.
Congressman Jim Davis is a member of the Telecommunications subcommittee. Davis and two of his staffers listened attentively, and Davis agreed with the Move On activists. Davis and a group of his colleagues in Congress have sent letters to FCC Chairman Michael Powell. In the letters, members of Congress tell Powell that they believe the FCC is headed in the wrong direction, particularly in regards to diversity and the protection of the public interest. Davis said that he could see little, if any benefit, to the public by loosening ownership restriction. The issue, he said, is that fewer sources will be producing content. He voiced concern that the five FCC members have been wined and dined, at a cost of $2.8 million, by the very companies they are charged with regulating. At the very least, Davis said, there is no reason to rush to a vote, when public hearings on the issue have been held only in North Carolina.
Davis urged the public to contact their legislators, the FCC, and the President. Experts are predicting a 3-2 vote in favor of relaxing the regulations, but, Davis said, with public pressure anything is possible. Should the FCC approve the proposal on June 2, Congress may try to enact legislation to counter the FCC.
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