F.C.C. Votes to Relax Rules Limiting Media Ownership

  1. It's done. Few people probably know about it. Fewer people probably even care. This decision effects us all. It seriously threatens what little true democracy is left in our country. Knowledge is power. Sadly, who "dispenses" knowledge/information will be left in the hands of only a few.

    F.C.C. Votes to Relax Rules Limiting Media Ownership
    (The 6/2/2003 New York times)

    WASHINGTON -- Federal regulators relaxed decades-old rules restricting media ownership Monday, permitting companies to buy more television stations and own a newspaper and a broadcast outlet in the same city.

    The Republican-controlled Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 -- along party lines -- to adopt a series of changes favored by media companies.

    These companies argued that existing ownership rules were outmoded on a media landscape that has been substantially altered by cable TV, satellite broadcasts and the Internet.

    Critics say the eased restrictions would likely lead to a wave of mergers landing a few giant media companies in control of even more of what the public sees, hears and reads.

    The decision was a victory for FCC Chairman Michael Powell, who has faced growing criticism from diverse interests opposed to his move toward deregulation.

    "Our actions will advance our goals of diversity and localism," Powell said. He said the old restrictions were too outdated to survive legal challenges and the FCC "wrote rules to match the times."

    The FCC said a single company can now own TV stations that reach 45 percent of U.S. households instead of 35 percent. The major networks wanted the cap eliminated, while smaller broadcasters said a higher cap would allow the networks to gobble up stations and take away local control of programming.

    The FCC largely ended a ban on joint ownership of a newspaper and a broadcast station in the same city. The provision lifts all "cross-ownership" restrictions in markets with nine or more TV stations. Smaller markets would face some limits and cross-ownership would be banned in markets with three or fewer TV stations.

    The agency also eased rules governing local TV ownership so one company can own two television stations in more markets and three stations in the largest cities such as New York and Los Angeles.

    "The more you dig into this order the worse things get," said Michael Copps, one of the commission's Democrats. He said the changes empowers "a new media elite" to control news and entertainment.

    Fellow Democrat Jonathan Adelstein said the changes are "likely to damage the media landscape for decades to come."

    The rule changes are expected to face court challenges from media companies wanting more deregulation and consumer groups seeking stricter restrictions.

    The FCC also changed how local radio markets are defined to correct a problem that has allowed companies to exceed ownership limits in some areas.

    The government adopted the ownership rules between 1941 and 1975 to encourage competition and prevent monopoly control of the media.

    A 1996 law requires the FCC to study ownership rules every two years and repeal or modify regulations determined to be no longer in the public interest. Many previous proposed changes were unfinished or were sent back to the FCC after court challenges.

    As the vote approached, opposition intensified. Critics bought television and newspaper ads, wrote letters and e-mails, and demonstrated outside television stations owned by major media companies.

    Some ads took on Rupert Murdoch, whose News Corp. owns Fox News Channel, 20th Century Fox TV and film studios, the New York Post and other media properties. Murdoch told a Senate committee last month he has no plan for a media buying spree after the changes, other than his proposed acquisition of DirecTV, the nation's largest satellite television provider.

    The critics of eased rules include consumer advocates, civil rights and religious groups, small broadcasters, writers, musicians, academicians and the National Rifle Association. They say most people still get news mainly from television and newspapers, and combining the two is dangerous because those entities will not monitor each other and provide differing opinions.

    Large newspaper companies such as Tribune Co. and Gannett Inc. wanted the "cross-ownership" ban lifted.

    "Newspaper-owed television stations program more and better news and public affairs than any other stations," said John Sturm, president of the Newspaper Association of America.

    News Corp. and Viacom Inc., which owns CBS and UPN, stand to benefit from a higher national TV ownership cap because mergers have left them above the 35 percent level. Those companies, along with NBC, persuaded an appeals court last year to reject that cap and send it back to the FCC for revision.

    Lawmakers have split mainly along party lines. Democrats demand more public scrutiny of the changes while Republicans support Powell. Some lawmakers critical of the FCC have proposed legislation to counter relaxed regulations.
  2. 24 Comments

  3. by   sbic56
    I am amazed that this passed so easily. In a nation where we so rightfully scream for freedom of speech, our voices stand to be squelched in a very big way by this terrible move.
  4. by   maureeno
    the Republicans have not been fooling around the past 25 years, they meant it when in 1994 they said "revolution".....
    ....facism is a totalitiarian state run for the interests of big business...
    are we there yet?
  5. by   Ted
    Originally posted by maureeno
    the Republicans have not been fooling around the past 25 years, they meant it when in 1994 they said "revolution".....
    ....facism is a totalitiarian state run for the interests of big business...
    are we there yet?
    Interesting that you should describe the interests of big business in such a way. This is not the first time I've read such a description.

    I would say the interests of big business with its economically conservative ideology coupled with the socially conservative ideology of the very well organized "religious right" paving the road for a totalitarian state.

    At least it feels that way. . . .
  6. by   pickledpepperRN

    June 5, 2003
    Senators Move to Restore F.C.C. Limits on the Media

    WASHINGTON, June 4-A bipartisan majority of an important Senate committee indicated today that it would vote to overturn some of the media ownership rules adopted two days ago, reversing one of the most significant deregulatory steps undertaken during the Bush administration
  7. by   Mkue
    I didn't know.. Is it really Republican controlled? So if Democrats were in office it would be Democrat controlled?
  8. by   pickledpepperRN
    $$$ controlled In my opinion.
    Regarding the FCC:
  9. by   Ted
    I hope the Senate has the intestinal fortitude to roll back the recent's FCC ruling! (And also "roll back" the 1996 FCC ruling too!)

    We should all be alarmed by the recent and recently past changes!!!


    This "smiley". . . .

  10. by   pickledpepperRN
    Originally posted by efiebke
    I hope the Senate has the intestinal fortitude to roll back the recent's FCC ruling! (And also "roll back" the 1996 FCC ruling too!)

    We should all be alarmed by the recent and recently past changes!!!


    This "smiley". . . .

    Are we allowed to say "guts" on this forum?
    Last edit by pickledpepperRN on Jun 23, '03
  11. by   pickledpepperRN

    Speech given by John Willis, the BBC's Director of Factual &
    Learning, at the Royal Television Society at BAFTA in London
    on 17 June 2003

    I had fully expected to be standing here as Vice President in
    charge of National Programmes at WGBH in Boston, not as the
    BBC's new Director of Factual and Learning, just eight days into a
    new job.

    Many times I have been asked what WGBH stands for. Given that
    I was only in Boston for a year, I would like to categorically deny
    that it stands for Willis's Great Boston Holiday.

    As it was the coldest January in 120 years in Boston and that the
    economic climate in public television was almost as frosty, it
    certainly wasn't that.

    Mind you, I almost changed my mind about joining the BBC when
    coming out of BBC White City and walking down the path towards
    the road, a big brown rat ran right in front of me.

    It didn't answer to the name, Roland.

    Knowing how keen the BBC is to save money on location
    shooting, I half expected to find David Attenborough and a film
    crew chasing after it.

    I thought for a moment that the rat was leaving a sinking ship,
    but then I realized that the BBC was more seaworthy than most
    broadcasters and that, the rat, like me, was probably joining, not
    leaving the ship.

    During my time in the States, I was continuously struck by the
    difference between the two countries. The Americans call
    oregano oregano and basil basil. They are both, apparently, not
    herbs, but erbs. So the former head of the FBI was J. Edgar
    Oover and Bill Clinton was married to illary.

    In religion, society, politics and culture, the differences are less
    superficial and starker.

    Yet, we are both glued together in one world where what
    happens in the Yemen or Yugoslavia impacts upon lives in Boston
    or Bristol. A global economy fed and powered by a worldwide
    information system more complex and more powerful than ever
    before. A universe in which cultural trends - reality TV, Harry
    Potter, rap music - slip seamlessly across the Atlantic.

    Now more than ever, as television viewers the world over receive
    the same messages, has T. S. Eliot's description of television
    come true: "It is a medium of entertainment which permits
    millions of people to listen to the same joke at the same time yet
    remain lonesome"?

    There's much to admire on American television. When I was at
    Channel 4, I led the team that brought Friends, E.R and Ally
    McBeal. It is hard to imagine a long-running British network series
    as literate as the West Wing or as brilliant and enduring as The
    Simpsons. In cable, HBO lead the way with The Sopranos and Six
    Feet Under, stunning pieces of acting, writing and production.

    A well-resourced system in the world's largest market, embedded
    in a rich Hollywood talent base, has produced some of the world's
    greatest television programmes. No wonder a long queue of
    British television executives and critics have begun to worship at
    the shrine of American television.

    There is much to admire and learn from how to sustain comedy
    and drama over many years through team writing - how to take
    creative risks in a commercial system, how to migrate the skills of
    writers like David Kelly, Aaron Sorkin and Steven Bochco into
    production leadership, how to make cinema and television culture
    cross-fertilise effectively.

    But these are a tiny number of programmes at the top of a food
    chain that is long, bland and tasteless, like the endless strips of
    fast food restaurants on the edges of American towns, where
    Arby's and Denny's, MacDonald's and Taco Bell compete for neon

    Pick away at the hundreds of channels on offer and you find that
    the apparent choice is just a tawdry illusion. Hours of cloned
    entertainment, for every Batchelor, there is a Bachelorette, jostle
    with lame comedies and drama-by-numbers.

    Then they are all recycled through secondary syndication
    channels so that you are never far from an old episode of
    Friends, or, indeed, Sergant Bilko.

    Every hour of this is crammed full of commercials for up to
    sixteen minutes an hour in peak time, encouraging a form of
    television attention deficit disorder.

    In this environment Americans watch anything. An eating
    contest, The Chicken Wing Bowl, attracted twenty thousand
    stadium spectators. Never ones to miss a trick, Fox has run a
    televised food guzzling contest, The Glutton Bowl.

    Nor can we assume that American production values are as
    superior as the British cheerleaders of American television claim.

    US daytime soaps make BBC's Doctors look as if it was written by
    Tolstoy or Dickens. The American versions of What Not To Wear
    and Pop Idol are less presented than their British counterparts.

    Indeed, if there is so much to be admired in American television's
    creativity why have so many of their most successful
    entertainment programmes been invented here and then exported
    by Britain as formats.

    Survivor, Pop Idol, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire and Weakest
    Link are British inventiveness with Scrapheap Challenge, Changing
    Rooms and Faking It all being re-versioned for the USA.

    But it is on news and current affairs that American Television is
    shown at its most dispiriting.

    A sprawling and diverse democracy in which only 16 per cent of
    Americans hold passports, no nation needs independent and
    impartial media more than the USA.

    Yet, it wasn't just the US flag fluttering in the corner of the
    screens or the loose use of language from imbedded reporters
    using 'we', it was quite simply that much of American coverage,
    particularly on the cable channels, could have been written and
    produced by The White House.

    Pentagon spokeswoman, Victoria Clarke, was certain in a
    Television Week interview that embedding" reporters worked for
    the Government. Oh sure, it demonstrated in such a real and
    compelling fashion the professionalism, dedication and
    compassion of these young men and women who serve and put
    their lives at risk. That was an important objective.

    When Fox star Bill O'Reilly interviewed retired generals before the
    attack on Baghdad, he airily dismissed their caution and told his
    viewers that the US should go in and 'splatter' the Iraqis.

    Interviews with military superhawks were balanced by regular
    strength hawks. Dissenters were reduced to sound bites at
    protest rallies and described as 'the usual protestors' or even 'the
    great unwashed'.

    Chillingly, media consulting firm Frank Magid warned: covering
    War protests may be harmful to a station's bottom line. Another
    consultant group urged radio stations make listeners, cry, salute,
    get cold chills! Go for the emotions, air the national anthem at a
    specified time each day.

    Fox News led the way as the military cheerleader apparently
    giving both the viewers and the politicians what they want.
    Contra scandal star, Oliver North, reported on the ground for Fox.
    Bill O'Reilly calls his programme a 'no spin zone' but there's more
    spin than Shane Warne and Phil Tufnell combined. The channel's
    proud slogan is Real Journalism, Fair and Balanced, but as
    columnist Tom Shales put it: 'The only word with any truth in it is
    'and'. Even that seems suspect'.

    The success of Fox has pushed other stations to the right.
    MSNBC recently hired Michael Savage whose radio programme
    Savage Nation makes Fox News look like The Guardian. On radio,
    Savage's solution to the Middle East conflict, 'We are the good
    ones and they, the Arabs, are the evil ones. They must be
    snuffed out from the planet and not in a court of law.'

    Above all, there was little or no debate. America's political
    leaders remained unchallenged. Any lack of patriotism was
    punished with McCarthyite vigor, even in the television industry,
    where CBS's Ed Gernon was summarily dismissed for a mild case
    of expressing his opinion.

    Public television was a rare haven for robust questioning and
    independent reporting, but PBS is relatively marginal to American

    Watching BBC World or seeing reporters from ITV, BBC and Sky
    within network reports or watching CSPAN's coverage of British
    Parliamentary debates made me - and many Americans - realize
    just what the world's largest democracy was missing. No wonder
    viewers for BBC America and BBC website hits rose significantly.

    For all the warts on British television, a year in America has
    taught me just how lucky we are to have not just the BBC, but a
    range of diversely funded channels with different layers of public
    service ambitions and obligations.

    The lesson from America is that, if news and public affairs are left
    purely to the market, it will most likely give the government what
    it wants.

    This swamp of political cravenness was a timely reminder of the
    values and obligations of public television. Its birth marks -
    independence, universality, diversity of opinion and quality,
    should be especially visible at times of war.

    American commercial television exists simply to move goods or
    products. Public television exists to move the imagination.

    Now, as I return home it looks as if the giants of American media
    might be following me. I feel I can't escape, I am being stalked
    by Viacom and Disney.

    Of course, the US Federal Communications Commission is an
    economic regulator with narrower responsibilities than Ofcom. In
    terms of content, it has gums, but no teeth.

    We have to hope that Ofcom who have been busy signing talent
    faster than Arsene Wenger or Alex Ferguson, make a better fist
    of regulation than the FCC who have overseen a dramatic
    reduction in the diversity of ownership in US radio to ill effect and
    have recently voted to allow media consolidation in television.

    In one part of North Dakota, for example, of eight radio stations,
    six are owned by Clear Channel, America's largest radio owner
    with 1200 stations.

    Defending the independence, quality and range of British
    television culture against the muscularity of the US media giants
    is a very tall order for a start-up regulator. Even American media
    mogul Barry Diller recognizes that media consolidation is not
    necessarily good for viewers.

    In my personal view, it is a careless risk that should never have
    been contemplated, playing with matches when we don't need to
    start a fire. American majors will defend their bottom line with all
    the political influence commercial muscle and legal fire owner
    they can muster.

    If the Government have its way over the next few weeks we
    have to hope that Ofcom rises to the task and that in ten years
    time, American television's influence here still represents the
    distinctiveness of The Simpsons and The Sopranos, not the
    wasteland that the rest of US television already is.

    I will leave the final word to a friend of mine called Bill, who ran a
    small New England restaurant. He said to me: British Television,
    now that's a nice piece of cheese. I heard on the radio that our
    guys might be moving in there. John, for heaven's sake stop it,
    by the time they finish there'll be no cheese at all.

    John Willis appointed BBC Director of Factual & Learning (08.04.03)
  12. by   pickledpepperRN
    How do we decide what is accurate on TV, radio, the newspaper, from the mouths of politicians, or our friends?
    Galloway papers deemed forgeries
    Iraq experts, ink-aging tests discredit documents behind earlier Monitor story.
    By staff writers of The Christian Science Monitor
    On April 25, 2003, this newspaper ran a story about documents obtained in Iraq that alleged Saddam Hussein's regime had paid a British member of Parliament, George Galloway, $10 million over 11 years to promote its interests in the West.
    An extensive Monitor investigation has subsequently determined that the six papers detailed in the April 25 piece are, in fact, almost certainly forgeries.

    GALLOWAY DOCUMENTS: The Mail on Sunday, a British newspaper, reported earlier this week that it had "uncovered a plot to sell forged documents incriminating" George Galloway, a member of Parliament.
    The Mail said its investigation "cast serious doubts" over the Monitor's April 25 report that it had official Iraqi documents authorizing more than $10 million in payments to Mr. Galloway between 1992 and 2003.

    GALLOWAY SUSPENDED: Britain's ruling Labour Party suspended leading antiwar politician George Galloway Tuesday over an outspoken attack on Prime Minister Tony Blair and President Bush during the war on Iraq. Mr. Galloway called the two leaders "wolves" for attacking Iraq, in a March 28 appearance on a Gulf television station during the war, Reuters reports. "He is suspended from holding office or representing the party pending the outcome of internal party investigations," a Labour Party statement said.
    Galloway said the action made a mockery of the assertion that the war was fought in the name of freedom and democracy and said he stood by his words.
    Galloway has threatened to sue The Christian Science Monitor and The Daily Telegraph for libel over two separate stories about documents found in Iraq that indicate Baghdad was making payments to him. The Monitor story appeared on April 25, and a Galloway response was published on April 28. Parliament's standards commissioner is to hold a separate inquiry into the allegations.

    British lawmaker denies receiving Iraqi payments
    A British member of Parliament, whose alleged ties with Saddam Hussein's regime are being investigated in Britain, denied a Monitor story based on Iraqi government documents authorizing payments to him totalling more than $10 million.
    In an interview with the Associated Press, George Galloway labeled the story, published April 25, "fantastically untrue." The Monitor obtained documents in Iraq that indicated Mr. Hussein's government authorized six payments to Mr. Galloway between July 1992 and last January.

    from the April 25, 2003 edition
    Newly found Iraqi files raise heat on British MP
    Documents indicate payments of more than $10 million for support of Labour Party official.
    By Philip Smucker | Special to The Christian Science Monitor
  13. by   pickledpepperRN
    Just a little more to think about. We nurses were trained in the scientific method so at least know when we choose to take something on faith.

    The "true" story"? This is as heroic as the media version.
    Saving Private Jessica
    ASIRIYA, Iraq
    I've been roaming Iraq, turning over rocks in my unstinting effort to help the Bush administration find those weapons of mass destruction. No luck yet.
    June 20, 2003
    Sunday morning talk shows like ABC's This Week or Fox News Sunday often make news for days afterward. Since prominent government officials dominate the guest lists of the programs, it is not unusual for the Monday editions of major newspapers to report on interviews done by the Sunday chat shows.
    But the June 15 edition of NBC's Meet the Press was unusual for the buzz that it didn't generate. Former General Wesley Clark told anchor Tim Russert that Bush administration officials had engaged in a campaign to implicate Saddam Hussein in the September 11 attacks-- starting that very day. Clark said that he'd been called on September 11 and urged to link Baghdad to the terror attacks, but declined to do so because of a lack of evidence.
    Here is a transcript of the exchange:
    (click link for transcript)
    And more for the news buffs:
    (or citizens wanting to be informed):
  14. by   pickledpepperRN
    Published on Monday, July 14, 2003 by the Associated Press <http://www.ap.org>
    Poll: FCC Media Ownership Rules Change Fuels Worries
    by Will Lester
    WASHINGTON -- Public suspicion that the news media are growing less independent is fueling worries about loosened restrictions on companies owning multiple outlets in the same city, a new poll finds.
    New rules passed recently by the Federal Communications Commission allowing more concentrated ownership are viewed as a negative development by half, 50 percent, in a poll conducted by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.
    Andrew Kohut, director of the Pew Research Center, said the worries about the new ownership rules are probably related to "the suspicion the public has about corporate power."

    Only 10 percent in that poll said the decreased restrictions would have a positive effect.
    About one-third said in February that the concentrated ownership of media outlets in a city would have a negative effect. But few people at that time had been paying much attention to ongoing efforts to change the ownership rules.
    Seven in 10 in the new poll said they think news organizations are often influenced by powerful people and groups.
    "Over the last 20 years, people have had growing doubts about whether the press is really independent or influenced by powerful forces," said Tom Rosenstiel, director of the Project for Excellence in Journalism. "They have growing concerns about that influence."
    The FCC decided in early June that individual companies can own television stations reaching nearly half the nation's viewers and combinations of newspapers and broadcast stations in the same city.
    Critics of the decision said the new rules will lead to ownership of the media by a few giant companies that can control what people see, hear and read.
    Andrew Kohut, director of the Pew Research Center, said the worries about the new ownership rules are probably related to "the suspicion the public has about corporate power."
    The public has mixed feelings about how much objectivity it wants in news coverage. A majority of people say they want the media to offer neutral coverage. But when asked if they think it is good for coverage to have "a strong pro-American point of view," seven in 10 said "yes."
    The poll found that 22 percent say they most often turn to Fox News for news coverage. That's up from 16 percent in January 2002, but still behind CNN, at 27 percent.
    The Fox audience is significantly more conservative and Republican than the audience for network news and CNN, the poll found.
    The recent problems experienced at The New York Times when reporter Jayson Blair fabricated material in stories apparently has had little effect on public attitudes about the media.
    Most people already were cynical about media organizations' accuracy and response when mistakes are made.
    Improvement in the news media's public image after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks has largely disappeared, according to the poll. But the public perception about the patriotism of those in the media is still slightly higher than it was before the attacks.
    People tend to see the news media as liberal rather than conservative, by a 2-1 margin.
    The poll of 1,201 adults was taken from June 19 to July 2 and has an error margin of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
    Copyright 2003, The Associated Press