Taking on the Media Monopolists, and Winning

Posted by Todd O'Boyle on December 17, 2013


Thumbnail for the media consolidation campaign

Remember former FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski's bad idea to allow billionaire moguls to control even more of our media? His proposal would have made it possible for right wing ideologues like Rupert Murdoch to control important newspapers like the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, and the Baltimore Sun.

We called on you to act and you did. By the thousands, you told the Commission to any change in the ownership rules to understand how it would impact women and people of color. Right now, our media landscape is woefully-lacking in diversity. Women own less than 7% of full power radio and television stations, while people of color own 3% of full power commercial television stations. Ownership shapes what gets covered, so diversity is hugely important. Together with our partners at Free Press, the Communications Workers of America, and others, we delivered 200,000 signatures to FCC headquarters last year.

So here's the news: Chairman Wheeler pulled the proposal, and said it's going to be reworked. He did the right thing, and should be commended. Former FCC Commissioner and Special Advisor to the Media and Democracy Reform Initiative Michael Copps said,

"I am tremendously encouraged that Chairman Wheeler has pulled this item. It was an ugly dinosaur still stalking the Commission's hallways long after it should have been extinct. Maybe, just maybe, the new FCC will go on from here to become a true protector of the people's interest on the people's airwaves. If there is a will, I know there is a way, and the time is now."

This is a big win for the public interest, but the fight is not over. We need to do more -- much more -- to ensure our media is strong enough to support an informed electorate. The Commission has a legal obligation to regularly study the American media landscape so that it has the information it needs to make good policies. As Michael Copps noted yesterday, conservative Republicans in the Congress are calling on the FCC to back off of this essential (and legally required) research. Let's hope Chairman Wheeler stands up to the forces of media monopolization once again.

Follow Michael Copps (@coppsm) and myself (@ttoboyle) for the latest on Media and Democracy at Common Cause.

 

Office: Common Cause National

Issues: Media and Democracy

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