An Open Letter to FCC Chairman Kevin Martin
Dear Chairman Martin:
With the Senate's confirmation of Robert McDowell as the fifth Commissioner at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), we understand that your agency is poised to begin its work revising our nation's media ownership rules.
In 2003, the FCC voted to relax media consolidation limits without giving the public time to review the rules and without seeking their views on the impact those rules would have on their communities. When the Court of Appeals in Philadelphia rejected the 2003 rules, the court's decision made clear that not only were the rules flawed, so was the process that produced them. We urge you not to repeat the mistakes of the past.
It is critical that the public have a seat at the table this time. As demonstrated by the more than two million comments that flooded the FCC after its June 2003 vote, the American people understand and are concerned about how media consolidation influences what they read, see and hear. Media consolidation has a major impact on the information Americans receive about their local, state and national governments, and their ability to participate in their democracy. They deserve an opportunity to review and weigh in on any proposed rule changes that come before your Commission.
We strongly recommend that the Commission disclose any and all proposed rule changes in a comprehensive package, and schedule a series of hearings in geographically diverse locations to listen to public opinion. We hope that you, as Chairman, would pledge to attend most, if not all, such public hearings.
We urge you to conduct the media ownership proceeding as openly and transparently as possible, with concern for the public, not industry bottom lines, driving your ultimate decisions.