Will Broadcasters Get Yet Another Giveaway Without Giving the Public Anything in Return?

Click below to download an editorial memo outlining efforts by Common Cause and media reform groups to urge the Federal Communications Commission and broadcasters to take seriously their obligation to serve the public interest. As you know, that was the deal broadcasters got when given use of the publicly owned airwaves some 70 years ago.

Public interest groups have long fought to persuade broadcasters to fulfill their public interest obligations, and gotten little response. We hope that now is different. This effort comes as the television industry fundamentally changes the way it transmits content — from an analog to a digital signal that can carry six broadcast channels over a frequency that now accommodates only one. Broadcasters stand to reap huge profits from the extra channels, but first they need the FCC to require cable companies to carry them.

While the FCC considers this request, we think now is the perfect time for the FCC and broadcasters to stand back and consider what they owe the public in return.

A coalition of media reform groups has proposed a host of narrowly tailored and reasonable guidelines for broadcasters to serve the public, including three hours a week of local civic or electoral affairs programming.

Common Cause and a coalition of media reform groups will kick off the campaign to pressure broadcasters and the FCC to take seriously their public service obligations at the National Association of Broadcasters annual convention in Las Vegas next week. We also hope to gather thousands of signatures on petitions to FCC Chairman Michael Powell and members of Congress asking them to hold broadcasters accountable for their service to the public.

Dowload the edit memo – (PDF)

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