Free Press Joins with Civil Rights Leaders to Oppose FCC’s Giveaway to Big Media

The chorus of opposition to the FCC’s secretive plan to gut media ownership limits is growing louder.

On Wednesday, civil rights organizations, unions and public interest groups came together to show they are united against the FCC’s scheme. I joined a press conference with Wade Henderson of The Leadership Conference of Civil and Human Rights, the Rev. Jesse Jackson of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, Bernie Lunzer of The Newspaper Guild-CWA, Mee Moua of the Asian American Justice Center, Alex Nogales of the National Hispanic Media Coalition and Rashad Robinson of ColorofChange.org.

You can listen to the press conference here.

My prepared remarks appear below:

Let’s not forget that the groups here today represent millions of Americans and are backed by hundreds more organizations, including feminist groups like the National Organization for Women, free speech groups like the ACLU, and religious groups like the United Church of Christ, which has been a leader on these issues for decades.

Let’s not forget that the last time the FCC tried to make these same rule changes and open the door to more media consolidation that 99 percent — 99 percent! — of the public comments it received opposed the agency’s move.

And yet now the chairman of the FCC is in a rush and can’t be bothered to attend a single public hearing on the issue?

Now we learn the FCC might vote on these rules — rules opposed by 99 percent of the public — in secret, without an open meeting? It’s unbelievable.

Let’s not forget that when the Bush administration tried to sneak through almost these exact same rules, the Senate voted to throw them out.

The co-sponsors of that effort were Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, John Kerry … and close to a dozen others who are on the record against this exact policy and this exact kind of secretive, broken process.

Let’s not forget that the federal courts rejected the FCC’s attempt to gut ownership rules — in 2004 and again in 2011 — for failing to share plans with the public and for failing to judge the impact on ownership diversity.

Let’s be clear: The court said the FCC cannot move forward with new rules without first studying the impact of those rules on women and people of color.

The study must come first — not after the rules have already been changed.

Free Press is prepared to sue the FCC again — and I am confident we will win again, for the third time.

But it’s not too late for the FCC to do the right thing.

What’s the big rush to change these rules, anyway?

After four years of doing nothing to address ownership diversity, Julius Genachowski is suddenly in a rush to get this done? Why?

Maybe Rupert Murdoch is in a rush, too, to buy the Los Angeles Times or the Chicago Tribune? Well, I think he can wait.

We waited 13 years for the FCC to produce a simple census of who owns what — and that survey shows women own less than 7 percent of all broadcast TV stations, and people of color own just 3.6 percent of those stations. That’s a travesty.

All the existing data — and common sense — tell us that consolidation raises the barriers to entry and makes it next to impossible for new owners to get in the market.

So if there’s a rush, it isn’t for another handout to big media. It’s for the FCC to live up to its mandate to actually promote “localism, competition and diversity.”

That means dealing with diversity first. Not after it’s too late and everything has already been given away.

Tell the FCC: no more media for Murdoch.

People + Policy

= Positive Change for the Public Good

people + policy = Positive Change for the Public Good