The FCC must not rush to judgement

A plan by Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin J. Martin to relax media ownership rules before the end of the year without further public input and comment on the specific proposed rules must be slowed down.

“Not only is greater consolidation of the media bad for America, but a process that would allow it without public input is not how our democracy is supposed to work,” said Common Cause President Bob Edgar. “The FCC must slow down, fully disclose its proposal and allow the people to speak on the specifics of these media ownership rules. If they do not, Congress should rein them in.”

The FCC four years ago similarly tried to relax media ownership rules with limited public input and the result was a firestorm of protest. More than 2 million Americans contacted the FCC and Congress to express their outrage over changes that could make it possible for one media giant to own the local newspaper, up to three television stations and up to eight radio stations in one media market.

“People realize what these new rules could mean for democracy — fewer sources of information, less coverage of local news, fewer media owners and fewer diverse points of view,” said Edgar. “The vast majority of Americans oppose more consolidation and the FCC must consider that.”