Monday, October 09, 2006

Stopping Big Media, One Voice at a Time

Martin in action
Last week's FCC hearing in Los Angels was an extraordinary moment in U.S. media history. People came out in overwhelming numbers to tell the Federal Communications Commission that Americans want to turn back the tide of media consolidation.

Nearly 1,000 people packed auditoriums in downtown L.A. and El Segundo; and all but one of the more than 75 people who came forward testified against further media consolidation. Over eight hours of testimony, artists, writers, producers, directors, actors, small business owners and local citizens told all five commissioners about the devastating impact of media consolidation. (Listen to some of the testimony)

The question now is whether FCC Chairman Kevin Martin will actually listen to the public outcry and stop big media.

All around him, evidence is mounting that shows the serious problems caused by media consolidation. Free Press recently released a groundbreaking study showing the shockingly low number of TV stations owned by women and people of color. Upon reading the report, FCC Commissioner Michael Copps called the FCC's failure to promote diversity in our media a "national disgrace."

This followed news that the FCC had suppressed two studies that revealed the negative impact of media consolidation -- including one that showed media concentration was disastrous for local news coverage.

Chairman Martin has pledged to hold five more public hearings before the FCC votes on any media ownership rules changes. If Martin holds to this promise and hears out the public, he will learn that a vast majority of Americans do not want concentrated media. They want local owners, local coverage, and media that represent our diverse communities.

The Coalition is working to make certain these hearings are publicized and packed to the rafters. After five more hearings like the one in Los Angeles, it would be unthinkable for the FCC to turn a deaf ear to the public and allow the Clear Channels, Disneys, Sinclairs and News Corporations to gobble up even more local media.

Media policies made in the public's name must not be made without the public's informed consent. That's why your active involvement is so important. The more all policies reflect public debate, the more likely the media system they shape will serve the people, not just powerful corporations.

Saul Alinsky famously wrote that the only way to beat organized money is with organized people. Well, last week organized people landed a haymaker in Los Angeles. If we keep up the fight, the era of corrupt media policymaking will come to an end.

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