WASHINGTON — Activists gathered Wednesday outside the Federal Communications Commission to spread the news about growing opposition to the FCC's plans to gut media ownership rules. They handed out broadsheet special editions of the Free Press to passersby, highlighting opposition to greater media consolidation from the courts, Congress, civil rights leaders and President Barack Obama. To view a copy of the broadsheet, go to: http://www.freepress.net/sites/default/files/resources/ownership-broadsheet.pdf.
Advocates from Free Press and CREDO Action also delivered more than 200,000 petition signatures opposing the FCC's rush to eliminate longstanding limits on how much media one company can own in a single market.
"Here's a news flash for the FCC: The public hates the idea of more media consolidation," said Free Press President and CEO Craig Aaron. "So does Congress. And so will the courts if the FCC doesn't stop trying to ram through these rules instead of first studying their impact on diversity. Rupert Murdoch already has too much media power. Instead of giving him more and increasing the pressure on minority owners to get out of the TV business, the FCC should come up with a plan to increase competition and diversity on the airwaves and provide more opportunities for local voices. That's the FCC's mandate."
This week, 44 House members, including Reps. John Lewis, Emanuel Cleaver, Keith Ellison, Charles Gonzalez and Raul Grijalva, signed on to a letter reminding the FCC of the court mandate to study the impact on diversity before loosening any of its ownership rules. The members join several other House colleagues and 13 senators, led by Sens. Maria Cantwell and Bernie Sanders, in opposing the FCC's plan. Most recently, Sen. Frank Lautenberg sent his own letter to the agency outlining the impact Rupert Murdoch's current cross-ownership has had on New Jersey communities.
As opposition grows, Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. is one of the few companies still pushing the FCC to lift the 30-year-old cross-ownership ban. The FCC's rule change could directly benefit Murdoch, who reportedly wants to buy the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune.
"Murdoch's media grab is illegal under the current rules," said CREDO Action Political Director Becky Bond. "Chairman Genachowski should enforce the existing law, not push the other FCC commissioners to change the rules at Rupert Murdoch's bidding. He needs to understand that President Obama's resounding reelection was a clear mandate for limits on corporate power."