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FCC Chairman Kevin Martin believes that loosening restrictions on media ownership will "help forestall the erosion in local news coverage."  (Source: UNC)
Dying newspapers need all the help they can get, says the FCC

Consumer groups and the United States Senate is up in arms over the FCC’s recent vote to relax its rules on media ownership, which currently prohibit ownership of both print and broadcast news sources in the same market.

The vote occurred on Tuesday of last week, with a 3-2 split reportedly “along party lines.”

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin said the vote represented a “relatively minimal loosening of the band” that he thinks will “help forestall the erosion in local news coverage.” The new rules would allow simultaneous ownership of print and broadcast news outlets in the same top 20 market, which critics fear could spark a wave of media mergers that would leave fewer choices for consumers.

“The public has repeatedly told us they are not interested in further media consolidation,” said Democratic FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein. “The law does not say we are to serve those who seek to profit by using the public airwaves … the law says we are to serve the public interest.”

In an interview earlier this week with the Associated Press, Martin told reporters that “this was actually a very moderate attempt to adjust our rules to reflect some of the changes that are occurring in the marketplace.”

The FCC initially voted on loosening the rules on media ownership in 2003, with the vote succeeding only to be later nullified by a federal appeals court in 2004. Like last week’s decision, the 2003 vote sparked a fierce bipartisan backlash that was fought vigorously by congress and consumer rights groups.

Of particular concern is a series of loopholes that would grant similar privileges to markets outside the “top 20 markets” list, if media consolidation created additional local news sources or it bails out a news source experiencing financial distress, among other exemptions.

The day before the vote, Martin received a letter from a group of 25 senators warning him that they would “move legislation to revote the rule and nullify the vote” if the FCC elected to go ahead with the ownership rule changes, which have been brewing in various forms for several years.

According to the group, which includes Democratic Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Daniel Inouye of Hawaii, and Republican Ted “Series of Tubes” Stevens of Alaska, the FCC had not spent enough time seeking public input and examining the issue.



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Bad News
By TwistyKat on 12/27/2007 9:48:35 AM , Rating: 2
I mean, this means much more "bad" news.

Can we at least bring back the Fairness Doctrine?




RE: Bad News
By KristopherKubicki (blog) on 12/27/2007 9:54:51 AM , Rating: 4
What I don't get is that the newsroom journalists (the disciplined crowd) complains that media conglomeratives remove the national element. The Chicago Tribune, LA Times and Baltimore Sun all closed down their non-local branches when Tribune acquired them -- so now they just do local news (mostly political).

The only nationals left are the Journal, Times, Post and USA Today -- and for the most part the majority of their coverage has devolved into wires.

I'd hate to think our sole source of world and national coverage will someday be BBC and FT.


RE: Bad News
By noxipoo on 12/27/2007 10:41:01 AM , Rating: 2
the tribune still very much has national and international staff on hand. while you may not see them at every single international news story, they are there. less profitable newspapers can no longer afford to send someone to every single story and getting from the wire is simply much cheaper. plus you are probably reading them off of the internet, which means they needed to get it out as fast as possible and they don't have time to research and rewrite, just repost.


RE: Bad News
By Samus on 12/27/2007 12:16:59 PM , Rating: 3
I subscribe to the Chicago Tribune just for the Sunday circular. I could care less about the news paper itself. That stuff I read about online, often here on DT ;)

...at least the stuff I'm interested in anyway.


RE: Bad News
By KristopherKubicki (blog) on 12/27/2007 1:36:53 PM , Rating: 2
True -- good points. If its a topic that interests you I hope you check out this season of The Wire on HBO as The Tribune is specifically something they discuss.

I'm a Chicagoan born and raised, so the Tribune always has a place in my reading. But I do get concerned when I see the majority of news coming from wires, which are as poorly researched as they are written usually.


RE: Bad News
By noxipoo on 12/28/2007 11:59:32 AM , Rating: 2
i don't need to watch the program since i'm sitting in the building *cough*.


RE: Bad News
By mdogs444 on 12/27/2007 9:56:03 AM , Rating: 1
The Fairness Doctrine is a lame attempt for the Democratic party to try and gain importance on the radio airwaves. Limbaugh, Hannity, Oreilly, Beck, etc dominate the airwaves and the Democrats have tried and tried again, but always fail to gain any importance.

How funny that the Fairness Doctrine only pertains to the radio in this case. If you want to institute it, then why not make it pertain to the television and internet? Oh wait....would that violate free speach ??????? Isn't that one of the big complaints of the democratic party already - fighting for your rights to free speach?

So since the democrats dominate the television market (CNN, MSNBC, NBC, etc), while the repubilicans only have FoxNews, there is no reason to apply the Fairness Doctrine for balanced media & news coverage right on the television, internet (MediaMatters anyone?), or the newspapers (NY Times, LA Times anyone?).

Fairness Doctrine? Get a life.


RE: Bad News
By derwin on 12/27/2007 11:27:14 PM , Rating: 2
I doubt too many would contest that FoxNews is for the most part a republican party talkbox, I don't think its fair to create a dichotomy of TV stations as R or D. MSNBC surely does air Olberman, and CNN now seems to have a strangle hold on the Dem debates, but to call the stations as democratic as fox news is republican is rather absurd and creates a false sense of black and white.
I am not sure why you insult republicans by saying democrats are the only ones who concern themselves with free speach, as I am sure the 3 FCC boardmembers voted as they did in the name of just that - freedom of speach.
Granted, the fairness doctrine is rather outdated (and biased), but I feel that, to a certain extent some issues (political coverage on TV, newspaper, radio, etc. comes first to mind) should be considered for some newfangled "fairness" qualification IMO, to ensure these new media mergers (and our old media outlets too) do not create (for the most part, unintentionally) an unbalanced report of political information for the public.


RE: Bad News
By ethies on 12/27/2007 10:09:50 AM , Rating: 2
The Fairness Doctrine is just a bunch of big brother double speak.

Patriot Act - Purpose: Make people safer - Function: imprison people without charging them, strip search me at the airport, evesdrop on our communication

Fairness Doctrine - Purpose: Give people the opportunity to voice their opinons - Function: trample on free speech, influence the marketplace of ideas, run political opponents of out of business

I think at this point, I'd like to request a moratorium on bills that sound like they came out of 1984.


RE: Bad News
By TwistyKat on 12/27/2007 12:00:36 PM , Rating: 2
"Trample on free speech"?

Hardly. It provides that when a media conglomerate like Sinclair Broadcasting threatens to force its affiliates to show a slander-fest against a political candidate the opposition gets equal time to debunk the lies.

It works both ways, ya know?

A license permits broadcasting, but the licensee has no constitutional right to be the one who holds the license or to monopolize a...frequency to the exclusion of his fellow citizens. There is nothing in the First Amendment which prevents the Government from requiring a licensee to share his frequency with others.... It is the right of the viewers and listeners, not the right of the broadcasters, which is paramount.

— U.S. Supreme Court, upholding the constitutionality of the Fairness Doctrine in Red Lion Broadcasting Co. v. FCC, 1969.


RE: Bad News
By mdogs444 on 12/27/2007 12:05:45 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
It works both ways, ya know?

Actually, no it doesn't.

The Fairness Doctrine was shutdown for a reason - because it would impose too much on technological advances like television. Therefore, the actual Fairness Doctrine only effects RADIO.

Now, tell me, why would the Democrats push for this to be brought back in its CURRENT STATE - as opposed to being altered to affect all forms of media: newspaper, television, & radio?

Ahh, because Radio is the only thing that is dominated by the Republicans - where as the Democrats control the "drive by" media outlets, aka the newspapers and television!


RE: Bad News
By TwistyKat on 12/27/2007 5:10:55 PM , Rating: 2
Ahh, because Radio is the only thing that is dominated by the Republicans

What! Are you kidding? ALL of the large media companies are right-wing. Name me a major mainstream media company which is blatantly left-wing?

Now just because they are all right-wing that doesn't mean they want to give up their profits. There is still a left-wing demographic to exploit.

There will be shows and news stories that you will call liberal and start complaining about liberal media bias, but in reality none of them would ever rock the boat and broadcast any REAL hard-hitting stories which should be told.

Like say, for example, Reagan's support of the Contra death squads (terrorists!) in Nicaragua. Gary Webb ring a bell?

Or more recent, how about the billions of taxpayer dollars going to Iraq every month which becomes "missing".

Do you think Fox News will do any investigative reporting on that topic? Not while there's a missing blonde in Aruba!

Face it, dude. The American media is virtually a wholly-owned subsidiary of powerful business interests.

You might think that's a good thing. I don't. I think it is a cancer that could ultimately destroy America.


RE: Bad News
By mdogs444 on 12/27/2007 5:37:19 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
What! Are you kidding? ALL of the large media companies are right-wing. Name me a major mainstream media company which is blatantly left-wing?

Thats quite funny because its actually the opposite. FoxNews is the only tv channel that you can find that is conservative. But if you want me to give you an example, how about CNN? NBC? MSNBC(for the most part)? How about newspapers - New York Times? They are one of the largest liberal misinformation forms of drive by media.
quote:
Like say, for example, Reagan's support of the Contra death squads (terrorists!) in Nicaragua. Gary Webb ring a bell?

Or the democrats support for calling the most productive current general (Patreaus) a betrayal to the country? Or how about the democrats support of John Murtha's claims that our soldiers are terrorists and murderers of innocent civilians?
quote:
Do you think Fox News will do any investigative reporting on that topic? Not while there's a missing blonde in Aruba!

So the murder of an American girl in Aruba, in which her *accused* murderers are being released, is not a big story? Or how about the New York Times displaying the Guantanamo stories on the front page over 50+ days this year, which sticking a story about the only soldier in Afghanistan awarded with the Medal of Honor on page 4 of the Metro section?
quote:
You might think that's a good thing. I don't. I think it is a cancer that could ultimately destroy America.

I believe that the tv, newspapers, and radio stations should have a right to voice whatever opinions or facts that they want. You dont see many conservatives saying that they want the New York Times, CNN, (etc) kicked off the air - we just dont watch them because its all misinformation in our eyes. Liberals on the other hand, want to get FoxNews kicked off the air because the shows on Fox get more viewers than all the Liberal networks combined. And the Oreilly Factor is 100% proof of that.


RE: Bad News
By ethies on 12/27/2007 4:02:49 PM , Rating: 2
1st allowing a government organization to decide what is acceptable speech is the very definition of trampling on free speech.

2nd since the quote you took was straight off of wikipedia including italics, why don't I post the part of the article that followed:

Without ruling the doctrine unconstitutional, the Court also concluded in a subsequent case (Miami Herald Publishing Co. v. Tornillo, 418 U.S. 241) that the doctrine "inescapably dampens the vigor and limits the variety of public debate."

I think limiting the variety of public speech is obviously straight up trampling.

You don't have to like what they say; you don't have to listen to what they say; you can buy your own radio station and say what you want; but you don't get to tell them what they can't say.


RE: Bad News
By camped69 on 12/28/2007 2:31:43 PM , Rating: 2
Fairness doctrine is about control. The decision you refer to is based on numerous faulty premises. Hers's an idea: instead of the inevitable "self censorship" why not just turn the dial?

The government has no business telling people what/how/when/why or for how long they can talk. It's in the Bill of Rights read. Hell I recommend everybody in this great republic read it.....twice. That document leads to our nation being great once again. An age where PC is no more and men got on with being men. I can tell you this, the men from yesteryear would sit around typing about issues that affect this country without backing it up by being a presence in the face of their officials. Bush's claim that the constitution is just a piece of paper is only the beginning. Prepare people!


RE: Bad News
By jerryS on 12/27/2007 8:56:38 PM , Rating: 2
Unfortunatly I seem to live in interesting time - Where the kids like Kevin are appointed to do adult work- Yuck-
With all the new Bandwidth created by digital Radio our democracy should make sure all local stations are encouraged. If for no other reason as to have community events/ or emergencies aired.


What good is the FCC ?
By AntiM on 12/27/2007 10:07:19 AM , Rating: 2
The FCC is clearly being influenced by the large media companies and I don't see that they're looking after the public interest at all. How can fewer media outlets and fewer choices for viewers be good for the public interest? I really don't see that media ownership should be a concern for the FCC anyway. I think congress should limit the FCC's powers to basically managing spectrum and broadcast frequencies. Matters of media ownership should be the responsibility of the FTC. There again, I don't see the FTC as being much concerned with public interest either.




RE: What good is the FCC ?
By Screwballl on 12/27/2007 10:36:05 AM , Rating: 5
A majority of any person under the age of 40 is likely to get their news online before anything else. They may skim over the paper in the morning with their coffee but for any real news, the internet has taken over as the primary source of news and information. Before we know it, most of the news outlets will turn into "pay-to-see" websites. This way the only way you can get news is if you pay for it. You pay for cable, you pay for newspaper and magazines so why not pay for the same information online?
I do not agree with this but this is the route they are going.


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