WASHINGTON –- On Monday, attempting to respond to a growing chorus of critics, the Federal Communications Commission issued a statement claiming it has conducted its media-ownership review transparently. The FCC also gave the public 30 days to comment on recently released summary data about female and minority ownership. However, the Commission still has not made public its actual media ownership order, conducted proper analysis of the impact of proposed rule changes on ownership diversity, or scheduled any public hearings on the issue.
Free Press President and CEO Craig Aaron made the following statement:
"The FCC should retract this misleading statement. Under Chairman Julius Genachowski, the FCC’s push for more harmful media consolidation has been anything but transparent. The FCC's latest attempt to sugarcoat its bitter media consolidation pill is not going to fool anyone.
“The 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals was very clear when it told the FCC it couldn't proceed with any rule changes without first studying the impact of those changes on broadcast ownership by women and people of color. We thank Commissioner Clyburn for her efforts to create the opportunity for more public comment. But the FCC's merely asking for input on data that shows ownership diversity is practically nonexistent — something Free Press research proved more than six years ago — doesn't satisfy the court’s directive.
"Furthermore, it's disingenuous for the FCC to suggest that its process now is more transparent than the one former Chairman Martin used to adopt similar rules. Genachowski's FCC has yet to publish any details of its final proposal, offering only vague snippets in press releases. Genachowski is also pushing for a vote on the item behind closed doors, despite the president's instruction to rulemaking agencies to conduct any significant business in open meetings with opportunities for members of the public to have their voices heard.
“And this Commission's track record on public involvement in this proceeding is poor. Chairman Martin held six ownership hearings and two localism hearings. Seven of those were held outside D.C., and each offered the public the chance to speak directly to all five commissioners. But the Genachowski FCC held just three workshops in D.C. and three outside, none of which the chairman himself attended, let alone the full Commission. The FCC can't hide the fact that Chairman Genachowski is pushing an unpopular plan — one that's all too similar to the one Barack Obama campaigned against in 2008.
"Chairman Genachowski should shelve this disastrous plan. There's no reason why his last major effort as chairman should be this attempt to kill President Obama's promise for more diverse media ownership.”