Coalition Letter to President Obama on FCC Chair Appointment

April 4, 2013



The President

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President:

The upcoming departures of Chairman Julius Genachowski and Commissioner Robert

McDowell from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) present you with a

golden opportunity to achieve significant media and communications policy reforms left

unfinished during your first term. We, the undersigned organizations, strongly urge you

to nominate a new FCC Chair and Commissioner who will be deeply committed to

protecting the public interest by increasing competition, improving political transparency,

promoting media diversity and accessibility, and ensuring an open Internet.

Our nation's media and communications policies have a pervasive effect on life in 21st

century America. Those policies shape our commercial markets, our political discourse,

our educational opportunities, and our social interactions. Decisions at the FCC impact

everything from what viewers see on their televisions to the content they can access on

the Internet and the rates they pay. These will be crucial appointments for your second

term.

In the Senate and in your first presidential campaign, you clearly voiced your opposition

to further media industry consolidation. You spoke forcefully on this subject in 2007,

saying, "I believe that the nation's media ownership rules remain necessary and are

critical to the public interest. We should be doing much more to encourage diversity in

the ownership of broadcast media, promote the development of new media outlets for

expression of diverse viewpoints, and establish greater clarity in the public interest

obligations of broadcasters occupying the nation's spectrum."

That same year, you, along with Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) wrote, "[B]roadcast

ownership rules directly implicate core American values such as diversity, localism,

representation, and a competitive marketplace of ideas." You also noted that there had

been no improvement in the level of minority ownership and that the number of African-

American-owned stations had fallen 30 percent since 1998. Today, racial minorities

operate just 2.2% of full-power commercial television stations.

In your first term, you and your administration took on many important national media

and communications policy priorities. For example, you endeavored to implement the

forward-looking provisions of the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video

Accessibility Act. Yet, there remains much to do.

The FCC must review all telecommunications and media mergers critically. It must

adhere to specific public interest guidelines in these reviews to ensure that the people's

airwaves actually serve the people. It must recommit to enforcing rules already on the

books, such as the media ownership rules, as well as political advertising transparency

mandates that Congress enacted under Section 317 of the Telecommunications Act to

ensure that viewers know who is paying to persuade them on issues of national

importance. The FCC should empower parents to make good decisions with the right

tools to monitor the media consumed by their children. Moreover, the critical information

needs of many communities, including people who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind, or

visually impaired, remain underserved.

The FCC must confront challenges for broadband access and openness as well. Your

new FCC appointees will need to deal with industry's unfounded deregulatory pleas, and

its calls to wipe away decades of hard-fought universal service requirements and

consumer protections. Petitions calling for fundamental changes to these rules are

particularly off-base because broadband prices continue to increase while competition

declines and millions of Americans lack access to critical 21st century infrastructure.

The FCC's 2010 Open Internet Order also faces legal challenges that could undermine

the FCC's authority over the nation's telecommunications infrastructure. These rules

were based on principles that you have long supported, as you pledged to "preserve the

freedom and openness that have allowed the Internet to become a transformative and

powerful platform for speech and expression," and to "remain vigilant and see to it that

innovation is allowed to flourish, that consumers are protected from abuse, and that the

democratic spirit of the Internet remains intact."

As a senator, candidate, and recently as president, you have supported increasing

universal and affordable broadband access, preserving open Internet policies, promoting

open and shared spectrum use, and empowering consumers to "unlock" and use their

mobile devices. To achieve those goals, the Commission must seize this opportunity to

chart a new course for the FCC - one that will prioritize the public interest over corporate

interests.

We strongly urge you to nominate a new FCC Chair and new Commissioner who are

committed to faithfully implementing the media policies you have championed during

your career in public service.

Sincerely,

Access Humboldt

Alternate ROOTS

American Council of the Blind (ACB)

American Foundation for the Blind (AFB)

Association of Late Deafened Adults (ALDA)

Art IS Change

Benton Foundation

California Coalition of Agencies Serving the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (CCASDHH)

Center for Media Justice (CMJ)

Cerebral Palsy and Deaf Organization (CPADO)

Chicago Media Action

Common Cause

Common Frequency

Consumers Union

Children Now

Deaf and Hard of Hearing Consumer Advocacy Network (DHHCAN)

Fight for the Future

Free Press Action Fund

Global Action Project (GAP)

Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA)

Highlander Research and Education Center

Institute for Local Self-Reliance

May First/People Link

Media Action Center

Media Action Grassroots Network

Main Street Project

Media Alliance

Media Literacy Project

Media Mobilizing Project

Media Policy Initiative

Mountain Area Information Network (MAIN)

National Association of the Deaf (NAD)

National Association of Broadcast Employees & Technicians (NABET-CWA)

National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC)

Native Public Media

New York Tech Meetup

Open Technology Institute

Personal Democracy Media

Public Knowledge

Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Inc. (TDI)

The Newspaper Guild-Communications Workers of America (TNG-CWA)

Ting/Hover

Tribal Digital Village Network

Tucows, Inc

United Church of Christ, Office of Communication, Inc .(UCC OC)

William C. Velasquez Institute (WCVI)

Young People's Project


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