Statement of Chellie Pingree, President of Common Cause, on today’s FCC Action on Media Ownership

Today the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to begin a process that is likely to allow our conglomerated media to grow even bigger. And the FCC is doing so without ensuring that the American people have adequate time and opportunities to weigh in.

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin passed up a golden opportunity to make clear to the American public that this is no longer Michael Powell’s FCC. Instead, the public remains uncertain about whether the FCC intends to change its ways and truly commit to involving them in these crucial media ownership decisions.

We’ve been down this road before. In 2003, the FCC proposed new rules that would have allowed a single company to own the local newspaper, up to three local TV stations, up to eight radio stations, and the local cable system in one media market. Ultimately, the rules and the closed-door process that created them were rounded rejected by Congress, by the courts and by the public.

Today Chairman Martin did little to assure us that the public will be involved this time around. Six public hearings are insufficient when you recall that in 2003, more than two million Americans weighed in on the media ownership proceeding. Even more troubling, we have no assurance from the Commission that the rules will be considered in a comprehensive package that allows the public to understand the full impact of these changes.

Common Cause and its 300,000 members and supporters will be watching the actions of the Commission carefully, and we call on Chairman Martin to listen closely to the voices of the American people before giving big media companies new special-interest benefits.