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, March 13, 2008

Inslee, Reichert sponsor legislation to reverse FCC's new media ownership rules

Last November the Federal Communications Commission breezed through Seattle, holding a last minute hearing on proposed new rules designed to (among other things), allow media conglomerates like News Corporation or TimeWarner to easily buy up radio and television stations and newspapers in the same markets.

(For over thirty years, the FCC has prohibited newspaper owners from holding licenses to operate television and radio stations in the communities where their newspapers are published. This restriction is known as the cross-ownership rule).

The Republican dominated FCC decided not long after the hearing to adopt the new rules. The rationale was that it would stimulate competition and offer more voices in the mix. I suppose if the government's goal is to have a stale palette of old, rich white men dominating our airwaves, then yes, deregulation makes sense.

Fortunately, a few sharp folks representing us in Congress have been watching the FCC like hawks, and they're not happy.

One of them is Washington's own Representative Jay Inslee, who has served the 1st Congressional District on Capitol Hill since 1999.

He authored the following Resolution of Disapproval of the FCC's actions:
110TH CONGRESS 2D SESSION H. J. RES. ll Disapproving the rule submitted by the Federal Communications Commission with respect to broadcast media ownership.

JOINT RESOLUTION Disapproving the rule submitted by the Federal Communications Commission with respect to broadcast media ownership.
Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That Congress disapproves the rule submitted by the Federal Communications Commission relating to broadcast media ownership (Report and Order FCC 07–216), received by Congress on February 22, 2008, and such rule shall have no force or effect.
That's it. “We don't like your rule. It's not getting past us.” Actually, the press release announcing the resolution was much longer. This is not merely a progressive effort - conservatives have signed on too. One of the cosponsors is Dave Reichert. It seems even he can recognize the folly of having a few mega-corporations controlling the news.

Senator Byron Dorgan of North Dakota introduced a similar resolution last week, which had 17 cosponsors, including our own Maria Cantwell. Other co-sponsors included Olympia Snowe (R-ME), John Kerry (D-MA), Ted Stevens (R-AK), and yes, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton co-sponsored, too.

Media consolidation is a genuinely bad idea, no matter how it's presented. It means fewer voices are heard, and it ensures that the content you do hear and see will be as inoffensive to as few in the corporate lineage as possible.

Investigations of defense contractors will remain ignored, more instances of presidential candidates being “deselected” from televised debates will occur, and the public will continue to receive spoon-fed newsmorsels of the management's choosing, regardless of how - or if - it serves the public interest.

Congress should be commended for its prompt action to stop the FCC's giveaway to big media. Corporations control far too much of our country as it is. Our thanks to Jay Inslee and Byron Dorgan for authoring these resolutions, and to the many cosponsors who have signed on in support. Stand strong for media diversity.


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