Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Live from the SCL: Commissioners speak

Commissioner Copps is currently speaking to the audience here at the Seattle Central Library. He was preceded briefly by Representative Jay Inslee, who reminded the gathering that media consolidation is not a problem that can be solved by the Internet alone.

(Indeed, a free Internet is already under attack, net neutrality legislation is needed to keep it from turning into something like a clone of cable television).

Inslee also made clear his desire to see the whole FCC in Seattle:
On the day that two members of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) who oppose loosening media-ownership rules are in Seattle to hear opinions of local residents on the issue, U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.) urged the five-member commission to hold an official meeting in the Evergreen State.

"I'm glad we're raising public awareness about the dangers of giving too much control of media markets to a few huge companies," said Inslee about the open forum featuring FCC Commissioners Michael J. Copps and Jonathan Adelstein being held on Thursday evening at the Seattle Public Library. "But we're preaching to the choir."

Inslee, a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee with jurisdiction over the FCC, today sent a letter urging Chairman Kevin J. Martin to hold one of the panel's six official field hearings on changes to media-ownership rules in Washington state.

He, along with six bipartisan members of Washington state's House delegation, wrote, "Washingtonians have been actively engaged in the media ownership debate for several years.

"These hearings are important not only for the public, but also for regulators to hear testimony and understand how their decisions affect communities and our core democratic values."

In 2003, when the FCC first considered weakening regulations, hundreds of Puget Sound area residents voiced their opposition at a forum held on the University of Washington campus. It too was attended by several commissioners, but wasn't an official hearing of the panel.

Inslee, a participant of both the 2003 and 2006 public meetings in Seattle, wants all five FCC commissioners to hear firsthand the concerns of Washingtonians as the federal regulators again consider allowing media conglomerates to own newspapers, radio and television stations in the same market.

The FCC held one official meeting on its renewed effort to change media-ownership rules in Los Angeles last month. Another is slated for Nashville in December; four remaining hearings haven't been scheduled.
Copps' remarks have been eloquent, sharp, and on target. After first going out of his way to thank Senator Maria Cantwell for her leadership, he began talking about the subject at hand. Thus far he has emphasized public ownership of the airwaves, the importance of community media, and the relationship between freedom of the press and a healthy democracy.

Commissioner Adelstein was just as fabulous. Among one of his best lines: "Today, if Elvis Presley was playing, he'd probably throw down his guitar in disgust because he couldn't get on the radio." He also noted that "local newscasts are dominated by sensationalism....if it bleeds, it leads."

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