Keep the Pressure On

Late last year, word got out that Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski was trying to rush a vote on a plan that would have weakened media consolidation rules, hurt media diversity and given Rupert Murdoch a green light to buy up major papers like the L.A. Times and the Chicago Tribune.  

Conventional wisdom in D.C. was that no one cared about media ownership anymore, but when this plan was exposed it sparked a huge public outcry that turned the tables on the FCC. With the help of civil rights and public interest allies and activists from around the country, Free Press mobilized more than 60 members of Congress to oppose the agency’s plan and delivered more than 200,000 petition signatures to the FCC’s doorstep.

All of this forced the FCC to delay its vote to 2013. All signs suggest that Chairman Genachowski still wants to forge ahead with the same flawed policies that the Bush FCC tried to pass in 2007.

Murdoch’s Buying Spree Begins

Meanwhile, Rupert Murdoch has been on a spending spree. He has been described in the press as “having his mojo back” and “rubbing his hands together” in anticipation of new deals and mergers.

He recently bought up two local sports networks and a German cable provider. He’s had talks about buying Simon & Schuster (News Corp. already owns HarperCollins). And he just confirmed to journalists at the L.A. Times that he wants to buy their paper. To top it all off, the Tribune Company, which owns both the L.A. Times and the Chicago Tribune, just emerged from bankruptcy and is eager to sell off its papers for some quick cash.

All the while, Murdoch’s well-heeled lobbyists have been putting the pressure on in Washington, D.C.

Media consolidation is good for Murdoch — but bad for diversity.

Thanks to donors to Free Press and the Free Press Action Fund, we completed additional analysis on the impact of media consolidation on women and people of color in the media. It’s not a pretty picture.

Today there are only five African American-owned full-power TV stations, representing a 74 percent decline in just six years. Women own less than 7 percent of all radio and television stations. We need a media that truly represents our country’s diversity.

So much of the media consistently push damaging stereotypes and butcher coverage of issues critical to women and people of color. The FCC is required to foster diversity in our media — but the agency has been so negligent in its duty that we sued it and won. In 2011, a federal court ordered the FCC to address the issue before allowing any more media consolidation. But the FCC hasn’t listened, and the rules it’s trying to push through would make things that much worse.

Right now the FCC still refuses to come clean about its timeline, so we don’t know when it will vote on these bad rules. We’ve created some amazing momentum in this campaign, but we can’t stop now.

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If you care about fighting media consolidation, please consider a donation to the Free Press Action Fund.

People + Policy

= Positive Change for the Public Good

people + policy = Positive Change for the Public Good