Look out Pocatello, Idaho: There’s a new broadcast TV duopoly in town. According to TV News Check, the broadcast station KIFI – the market leader in Idaho Falls-Pocatello – will soon take control of ad sales and operations of its former competitor, KIDK. The agreement will cost nearly thirty people their jobs and residents will lose access to diverse, competitive news. The jointly run stations will only face news competition from one other station, the local NBC affiliate.
The last ten years were tumultuous for media and journalism, with the industry shifting dramatically and new opportunities and challenges emerging. Amidst all this change, the media policies that shape everything we watch, read and hear, have had a hard time catching up.
In a recent cover story in the Columbia Journalism Review, Steve Coll of the New America Foundation wrote: “We badly require new policies and new thinking in Washington because the media policy regime we have inherited is out of date and inadequate for the times in which we live.”
As we enter 2011, a number of pressing policy decisions will confront those of us who care about the future of journalism and media.
Little noticed but extremely important, this December Congress passed the Local Community Radio Act.
This legislation opens up radio spectrum to hundreds, if not thousands, of local nonprofit independent radio stations (also known as LPFM).
Its passing will bring new choices and voices on the radio dial nationwide, but is especially relevant to a broadcast area reaching 160 million people who lived in areas where these stations had previously been barred from local airwaves.
On Tuesday FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski gave AT&T a decision that was gift-wrapped for the holiday season. By a 3-to-2 vote, the FCC passed a rule that, in the chairman’s words, “protects Internet freedom.”
As members of the Federal Communications Commission prepare for a vote on Net Neutrality next week, some of Congress’ most Internet-savvy members say the rule before the agency doesn’t fully safeguard consumers nor clear even the lowest bar for real Net Neutrality protections.
The nation’s largest telecom companies may be trying to gut Net Neutrality, but their investors – many of whom base their success (and ability to invest) on the open Internet – are not applauding the company line.