Common Cause's Media and Democracy Reform Initiative

Recognizing the power of the media to influence our nation’s political discourse, the Media and Democracy Reform Initiative seeks to strengthen and expand Common Cause’s work to “hold power accountable.” Because media coverage frames the terms of debate, reforming our national media policies is essential to achieving Common Cause’s broader reform agenda on voting and elections, disclosure, and transparency. Yet, American media’s failure to provide diverse viewpoints and unbiased information is undermining the strength of our democracy and acting as a barrier to many needed reforms.

Common Cause’s Media and Democracy Reform Initiative 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 them.

Led by former Federal Communications Commissioner (FCC) Michael Copps, Common Cause is bringing to bear four decades of experience and expertise in influencing actions and decisions by the White House, the FCC and Congress. We are educating Common Cause members and supporters, building grassroots support, and joining with like-minded groups to form strong coalitions. 

Our priorities for 2014

Your Right to Know: Transparency in Political Advertising
– The 2012 campaign season featured an array of often misleading – and sometimes downright false – television ads, often underwritten by shadowy SuperPACs or non-profit organizations. The FCC, an independent agency, can act immediately to enforce the existing statute that requires disclosure of the “true identity” of the sponsors of political advertisements. Common Cause is pushing the FCC to exercise its authority to ensure viewers know who is trying to persuade them.

Promises to Keep – When President Barack Obama ran for his first term, he opposed further media industry consolidation, stressed the importance of a free and open Internet, and supported increased minority and small business media ownership. Yet his first term has come and gone with little progress on these fronts. Until the next chair is confirmed, Common Cause is working to ensure that the next FCC Chairman more fully embraces in its policymaking the public interest agenda President Obama previously articulated.

Fighting Media Monopolies – Waves of mergers and consolidation have left a handful of corporate conglomerates in control of 90 percent of the American media. New, dangerous rules are currently pending at the FCC that would allow further consolidation. Common Cause is working with a diverse coalition to stop this misguided policy.

Closing the Digital Divide: Internet Access for Everyone – For too many Americans struggling to make ends meet, obtaining access to the internet means traveling to the local library or even the local McDonalds. Common Cause is fostering a renewed discussion on the role of the public and private sectors in bringing affordable, reliable, and quality broadband connections to every American home, business, and community center and on the best ways to promote wireline and wireless Open Internet provisions (“network neutrality”).

More information

Read our latest report on Verizon's political spending, "Goodbye Open Internet."

After that, check out "Big Deal, Big Money," an online comic based on our report.

Media and Democracy overview

No More Media Monopolies!


Coalition Letter regarding new FCC Chair

Promises to Keep: The Challenges for the Next FCC Chair


Your Right to Know: Transparency in Political Advertising

Check out Michael Copps’ latest blog post, presented in partnership with the Benton Foundation

Read how ALEC ended municipal broadband in North Carolina. Part one and part two.

Check out our Media and Democracy Reform Initiative Launch Video