Thursday, July 06, 2006

Save local media (again)!

Stop the FCC Chairman, Kevin Martin, from allowing greater consolidation of media. Tell the FCC that we citizens want more diversity of ideas, not less, and that the FCC has never demonstrated how greater consolidation wouldn't be harmful to the broad dialog required of our democracy.

Fortunately, citizens have a friend on the FCC to keep us informed of bad policy:

“I don’t think I exaggerate at all in saying that the issue is whether a few large conglomerates will be ceded content control over our music, entertainment and information, gatekeeper control over the civil dialogue of our country and veto power over the majority of what we and our families watch, hear and read,” said FCC Commissioner Michael Copps.

Robert W. McChesney, President of Free Press, sent the following email alert:
Chairman Martin -- backed by the biggest media giants -- is angling to eliminate the newspaper-broadcast "cross-ownership" ban that prevents a single conglomerate from owning the major daily newspaper as well as radio and TV stations in a single market. And he wants to lift local ownership caps on how many TV stations one company can own in your town.

If these rule changes were approved, one company could own the major paper, eight radio stations and three television stations in the same city.

The FCC is supposed to review media ownership rules every four years. How ridiculous -- as though the public would change its opinion about how much consolidation should be allowed every four years!

The last time this happened was when the previous FCC Chairman, Michael Powell, tried to ram weaker media consolidation rules down the public's throat. A wide spectrum of three million citizens from the left and the right protested. Ultimately, Powell's consolidation move was killed in federal court.

Who is FCC Chairman Kevin Martin?

Miami Herald reporter Carol Rosenberg found that Martin was one of the first of the lawyer shock troops sent to Florida to stop the vote recount in the 2000 presidential election. Prior to that, Martin worked for Ken Starr, the independent counsel in the Monica Lewinsky affair, where Starr conducted the longest, most expensive investigation of a president in history, never producing any evidence of wrongdoing.

Martin is, or was, an associate at the media law firm Wiley, Rein, & Fielding, whose client list includes nothing but major corporate media interests:
BAE Systems
Gray Television
General Motors
Newspaper Association of America

While people like Powell and Martin promote the interests of their corporate media friends, Eric Alterman asserts that they never stop to consider the hazards of their policies:
"Powell, Martin, and the corporate-friendly GOP have green-lighted big media companies to capture near-total market control over cable and broadcast television. Now, the same bunch is upset over the low-cost, high-ratings schlock that media conglomerates pump into the marketplace," said Ben Scott, policy director at Free Press.

Finally, Wikipedia offers the following trivia nugget about Martin:
In the South Park episode "Best Friends Forever," when Satan kills the Gríma-esque demon Kevin, he appears as Martin for a few frames as he lies dead; it is almost unnoticable without putting the scene in slow motion or looking at it frame-by-frame.

Related articles:
Michael Copps, "Media Mergers Are Damaging U.S. Democracy," Financial Times, June 21, 2006.

"North Carolina Speaks Out on Media Consolidation," Free Press, June 29, 2006.

Mark Washburn, "Who Should Own the Media?," Charlotte Observer, July 1, 2006.

"FCC Hears Calls for More Diverse News,"
Asheville Citizen-Times, June 29, 2006.

Here's an interesting hyperlinked chart of corporate media assets published by PBS's Frontline:

This corporate media chart is a little different, and shows General Electric assets which were not included in the Frontline chart.

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