Five House Reps Join the Anti-Media Consolidation Chorus

The opposition to the Federal Communications Commission’s plan to gut media ownership rules continues to grow on Capitol Hill. In fact, it’s not just growing — it’s burgeoning.

In just the last few weeks, 49 House members and 13 senators have told the FCC to ditch a proposal that would benefit media titans like Rupert Murdoch — and hurt just about everyone else.

Most recently, Ranking Member Rep. Anna Eshoo and four colleagues on the House Energy and Commerce Committee wrote a letter urging the FCC to study the impact of any proposals on ownership diversity before implementing any rule changes. Such a study shouldn't be optional: After all, it's what a federal appeals court mandated.

The letter picks apart the FCC claim that the rising number of Internet news sources should allay any concerns people have about the effects of media consolidation: “While the Commission is correct in noting that consumers are increasingly moving online to view news and information, this does not mitigate the Commission’s congressional mandate to protect and promote localism and diversity in our nation’s broadcast media.”

The letter draws on research from the Pew Internet & American Life Project to remind the FCC that only about two-thirds of American households have adopted high-speed Internet. (The letter is too tactful to note that the depressed state of broadband adoption reflects the FCC’s failure to promote the kind of competition that would make broadband affordable to more Americans.)

Given this digital divide, local television and radio outlets are a crucial news source for many Americans. But in a consolidated market, just a handful of voices dominate news coverage. The FCC’s cross-ownership ban is an important curb on truly out-of-control media consolidation. If the agency relaxes this rule, one company may be able to own a daily newspaper, two TV stations and up to eight radio stations in a single market.

We don’t need one-size-fits-all talking heads or political pundits. What we need are more local journalists reporting real news that matters to real communities. Tell the FCC: no more media consolidation.

People + Policy

= Positive Change for the Public Good

people + policy = Positive Change for the Public Good