Media and Democracy Program

 

Increasingly, the media's failure to provide diverse viewpoints and unbiased information is undermining the strength of our democracy.  Dissatisfaction with news coverage of events ranging from the 2000 presidential election to the war in Iraq has given media issues a new sense of urgency.  The more corporate conglomerates buy up independent news outlets, the fewer voices and perspectives the public hears, and the less accountable broadcasters are to the public.

 

Read our Media Reform Plan for a New Administration.

 

Common Cause is working to ensure that the media meet their obligations to serve the public by promoting diversity, accessibility, and accountability among media corporations and the government agencies that regulate the media.  Our Media and Democracy program has five goals:
 

 

 

Common Cause’s efforts are focused on:


Media Ownership. An increasingly concentrated media ownership system has a negative impact on the quality of news and information Americans receive about the nation, the world and their local communities. Common Cause continues to play a lead role in the effort to stop the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from relaxing media ownership rules. In addition, Common Cause is working to help community members own their own media. We are working to allow for more Low Power FM Radio, local, community-run stations that provide an alternative to the commercial broadcasters.


Network Neutrality. Net neutrality is the principle that Internet users should be able to access any web content they want, post their own content, and use any applications they choose, with restrictions or limitations imposed by their Internet service providers. Large telecommunications and cable companies want to create tiered pricing for content providers to better reach Internet users, thereby drastically changing the ability of individuals and small businesses to compete with larger interests to attract Internet users. Common Cause is fighting the telecommunications industry, fearing that a tiered system would eliminate the level playing field that has allowed for the free market of ideas and increased political involvement that the neutral nature of the Internet has spawned.


Community Broadband. Many communities are setting up ‘community broadband’ networks, or high-speed Internet networks anyone in the community can access for free.  Community broadband benefits the citizens by allowing anyone regardless of economic status to utilize the Internet. Common Cause supports workable community broadband efforts, as it increases citizens’ ability to participate actively in our democracy.


Public Interest Obligations. Common Cause questions whether broadcasters are doing enough in the public interest to justify receiving a free broadcasting license, drawing attention to the issue and asking what they should have to do to be more accountable to the public.