The Issue: Limiting Media Consolidation
The Initiative: Tell the Federal Communications Commission you’re concerned about relaxing the rules that limit the number of newspapers and major television and radio stations a corporation may own in the same city.
Background: The FCC is considering a behind-closed-doors vote on whether or not to relax a longstanding ban that prohibits a company from owning too many media properties in the country’s 20 largest markets. Some media companies argue that, as audiences increasingly find their news online (instead of buying newspapers or watching television), a combined television-newspaper newsroom owned by one company would allow print and TV reporters to work together and cover more ground with less resources. But critics of the plan point out that consolidating newspapers and television stations would further decrease the diversity of voices in local media and give tremendous power to a handful of media moguls, perpetuating a trend of consolidation over the last three decades.The FCC has unsuccessfully tried to change media-ownership rules before, but this latest threat comes just as Rupert Murdoch is considering purchasing the L.A. Times and the Chicago Tribune — the major newspapers in America’s second and third most populous cities. Both are owned by the Tribune company, which is currently emerging from bankruptcy. Under the current laws, Murdoch could not purchase either paper because he owns two television stations in both cities. But if the FCC relaxes the consolidation ban, the legal path would be clear for Murdoch to take ownership of both papers.
The last two times the FCC addressed the issue, they asked for public comments on the change. This time, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski reportedly floated a proposal to relax the rules with no plans for public comments. According to Bloomberg News, the five members of the FCC could vote privately on Genachowski’s proposal before the holidays.
Five Ways to Fight Media Consolidation
1. Submit a filing to the FCC and give them your input. When submitting to the FCC's filing system, Free Press suggests using the proceeding number 09–182, which indicates that you are giving your opinion on the media ownership debate.
2. Sign a petition at FreePress.net and tell the FCC you are against relaxing media ownership laws.
3. Write a letter to the editor of your local news source explaining what's at stake with the FCC's vote.
4. Call your congressional representatives and ask them to put pressure on the FCC to not relax media ownership rules. Ten senators have already sent letters to the FCC.
5. Tweet at your representatives to raise awareness and express your point of view using #StopTheFCC.