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FCC Moves to Change Ownership Rules Again
October 28, 2007 9:19 PM   Subscribe

The FCC, again, moves to loosen ownership rules for television and newspapers. A similar proposal in 2003 drew huge public opposition. This time, there is a narrow window for public comment, ending in mid-November. You can contact the FCC or go to the Common Cause page.

From Common Cause: "After the FCC's misguided 2003 vote, more than 3 million Americans voiced their concerns about media consolidation to the FCC and Congress. In the Senate, a resolution rolling back the rules sponsored by Senator Trent Lott (R-MS) and Byron Dorgan (D-ND), passed overwhelming. Media activists sued the FCC over the rules changes, and they were vindicated by a federal district court in Philadelphia. In 2004, the court threw out the flawed rules, in part because the FCC had not considered public input in the rulemaking."

As in 2003, lawmakers are threatening another non-binding "veto." Wiki background.
posted by McLir (32 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
We all loose.
posted by Balisong at 9:27 PM on October 28, 2007


I trust Rupert Murdoch.
posted by killdevil at 9:38 PM on October 28, 2007


What would it take to get Rupert appointed Chairman of the FCC? If not Rupert, what about Lachlan?
posted by b1tr0t at 9:51 PM on October 28, 2007


"There's no urgency for the agency to further relax ownership rules," said Dorgan. "In fact I would make the case that there's no set of evidence to suggest they should be relaxed."

There is indeed urgency — Bush and his cronies will be kicked out of the door soon, unless they start a war in Iran and declare an indefinite state of martial law at home.

More media consolidation helps Bush 1) help his friends and family's business interests; and, 2) control his message and the general Republican message to the public, by allowing misinformation to dominate real information.

While this is obviously more bad news caused by the Bush administration, it is heartening to read that the opposition is both bipartisan and so strongly motivated.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:54 PM on October 28, 2007


People still watch TV news and read newspapers?
posted by ldenneau at 10:06 PM on October 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


The rules *should* be relaxed -- or eliminated entirely. The fiction of "public airwaves" should be abolished:
As the airwaves were now deemed "public property," Washington was able--even obligated--to control the content of what broadcasters aired in order to ensure that the "public's property" was used in the "public's interest."

Acts of Congress notwithstanding, airwaves are not "public property." Airwaves are simply another form of private property akin to land, oil and intellectual property.

A broadcaster works to transform barren airwaves into radio transmissions, just as a farmer works to transform barren tracts of land into farmland. The right of a farmer to keep the product of his labor was protected by the Homestead Act of 1862, which guaranteed him sovereign control of 160 acres of undeveloped land if he worked on it for five years. As Ayn Rand pointed out in her article, "The Property Status of Airwaves," Congress ought to have enacted similar legislation for the first generations of broadcasters. Both radio transmissions and farmland are products of an individual's thought and effort and thus ought to be his private property to control and profit from.
posted by davidmsc at 10:36 PM on October 28, 2007


This will Murdoch.
posted by Poolio at 10:39 PM on October 28, 2007


Both radio transmissions and farmland are products of an individual's thought and effort and thus ought to be his private property to control and profit from.

That's pretty stupid. Radio frequencies aren't plots of land.

Having the government regulate frequency usage makes sure that, for example, there is reduced interference for emergency and transportation bands, keeping people safe.

Regulation prevents larger stations from broadcasting on a smaller station's frequency, in order to put them out of business.

Regulation, such as it is, has at least slowed the growing accumulation of media outlets in fewer hands, where that agglomeration has been shown by nonpartisan research groups to have a statistical effect on misinforming the public.

There are clear public interests in regulating the distribution of communication channels.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:54 PM on October 28, 2007 [5 favorites]


The rules *should* be relaxed -- or eliminated entirely. The fiction of "public airwaves" should be abolished:

Yes, it will be wonderful once nobody is regulating who broadcasts where and it's impossible to get a clear signal for any broadcast at all because there's five jackasses on every signal.

Oh, and airwaves as private property? Are you so fucking stupid that you have to have a little card taped to the lid of your laptop reading "breathe in, then out, repeat"? Do you realise the size of government apparatus necessary to keep the current scheme of licensing in place? Do you realise how large such an apparatus would have to be in order to enforce public property rights to something around which no fence can be built, which cannot in any sense be guarded or defended, and which anyone with even a little bit of electrical knowledge can intrude at any time?

Seriously, your comment is so mind-bogglingly stupid that, thanks to the principal of intellectual osmosis, I and every MeFite who read it has lost a significant amount of intelligence. You are actively hurting everyone who comes into contact with your ideas through the dendrite-killing power of their stupidity, and I for one expect to be compensated.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:00 PM on October 28, 2007 [18 favorites]


I mean, good god, that's one of the five stupidest things I have ever in my life seen rendered in text, and I spent about three years of my adolescence trolling Christian fundamentalist message boards for the fun of it. It physically hurts to contemplate the black-hole level of concentrated foolishness and the utter lack of insight that goes into the idea that airwaves should be private property. Good god.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:03 PM on October 28, 2007 [7 favorites]


Is it really necessary to respond at any length to someone who quotes Ayn Rand approvingly?
posted by Epenthesis at 11:11 PM on October 28, 2007 [4 favorites]


You're right, it really isn't. I guess I just hope that if I speak clearly enough, it'll have the same effect as rubbing a dog's nose in its messes.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:16 PM on October 28, 2007


When Faraday cages are outlawed, only outlaws will have Faraday cages.
posted by neckro23 at 12:29 AM on October 29, 2007 [3 favorites]


Raise a bigger raucous by contacting your senator and congresscritter also.
posted by caddis at 12:39 AM on October 29, 2007


A broadcaster works to transform barren airwaves into radio transmissions, just as a farmer works to transform barren tracts of land into farmland

What a ridiculous analogy. Pope Guilty said it best... where are the fences? Of course radio transmissions need Government regulation. Once the Corporations own the means to communication as well as production... what then?

But I suppose I'm just a weirdo who thinks that natural resources belong first and foremost to the people who live there, not a load of greedy bastards whose only motivation is individual profit. Insane, I know.
posted by twistedonion at 3:55 AM on October 29, 2007


Is it really necessary to respond at any length to someone who quotes Ayn Rand approvingly?

It's batting practice for the Internet.
posted by eriko at 5:06 AM on October 29, 2007


i can't wait to see how the democrats come out swinging in opposition to this.

While this is obviously more bad news caused by the Bush administration

sure they probably had a hand, but don't think hillary or any of her ilk are going to pitch a fit about it. clinton was responsible for billions worth of bandwidth being given away and ushered in his fair share of consolidation in '96.

it'll be an interesting world for us U.S. americans when they finally demolish net neutrality and get this new wave of consolidation through. most people are ignorant enough, pretty soon people that think they're staying on top of the world will be as ignorant as anyone. shit like this is a bigger threat then any fucking suicide bomber.
posted by andywolf at 7:10 AM on October 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


that is a bigger threat to democracy...
posted by andywolf at 7:11 AM on October 29, 2007


Seriously, your comment is so mind-bogglingly stupid that, thanks to the principal of intellectual osmosis, I and every MeFite who read it has lost a significant amount of intelligence.

Is it really necessary to respond at any length to someone who quotes Ayn Rand approvingly?


If Ronald Coase himself was a MeFite, you'd no doubt be righteously patting each other on the back while lining up to tell him just how stupid he is.
posted by Kwantsar at 7:30 AM on October 29, 2007


Pope Guilty is rite. davidmsc's comment made me dummer. Dam u.
posted by rusty at 8:02 AM on October 29, 2007


Kwantsar, how impolite of you to introduce actual economics ... you might make people think, and can't have that.
posted by MattD at 8:22 AM on October 29, 2007


Newspaper-television cross-ownership (which is the principal reform under consideration) actually serves whatever public interest remains in government control over the airwaves.

There are lots of metro markets where twin decreasing audiences (for over the air television and print newspapers) will soon start to strain the economics of robust newsrooms. A common newsroom and advertising sales effort (for the dual old-media product and a combined new-media product) can sustain one strong voice where you'd have only two weak, and eventually extinguished, voices.

When you get to major metros, you already have a lot of grandfathered cross-ownership to no noticeable ill-effect, and a lot more that could be great. Consider if the New York Times or LA Times newsrooms and editorial approaches were to drive a local newscast; it might actually be watchable compared to the current insipid product.
posted by MattD at 8:30 AM on October 29, 2007


Newspaper-television cross-ownership (which is the principal reform under consideration) actually serves whatever public interest remains in government control over the airwaves.

You're so cute.
posted by chundo at 8:34 AM on October 29, 2007


Ok, snark aside, the problem with cross-ownership - and particularly large market share cross-ownership - is not the quality of the reporting, but the potential for abuse. This is a bad idea for the same reason that we do not (theoretically) allow monopolies in this country - it only works as long as the company is acting in the public's interest. If a large media company decides to approach reporting with a non-objective slant that benefits it or its owners (hello Fox!) and there are no competitive media operations in the area, the public's choice is to be misinformed or uninformed.

As capitalism has frequently shown, the goals of profit and public interest are often in conflict when customers don't have a viable alternative.
posted by chundo at 8:46 AM on October 29, 2007


i can't wait to see how the democrats come out swinging in opposition to this.

"Yeah, uh, we think you totally suck...you suck, and your idea sucks, and uh, you suck for having this idea. So we went to the trouble of preparing this bill FOR you, because we know you're too stupid to write it yourselves. Um...is it cool if we just sign it, or does Rupert also need to...? Oh. Okay. Then yeah, here you go. You assholes. WE WILL NEVER STOP DEFYING YOU"
posted by kittens for breakfast at 10:38 AM on October 29, 2007


When you get to major metros, you already have a lot of grandfathered cross-ownership to no noticeable ill-effect, and a lot more that could be great.

Don't form opinions about things when you don't know anything about them.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:09 AM on October 29, 2007


kfb, they won't even go quite that far.
posted by andywolf at 11:18 AM on October 29, 2007


Guys, the fiction of "public airways" should be abolished. We already have controlled airspace for military and security concerns. We just need American, Northwest, Southwest, United, and their competitors to claim the airspace they use on their routes. Those are their routes, why should new airlines be allowed to use them?
posted by mikeh at 1:01 PM on October 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


I and every MeFite who read it has lost a significant amount of intelligence. You are actively hurting everyone who comes into contact with your ideas through the dendrite-killing power of their stupidity... I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.
posted by quin at 4:28 PM on October 29, 2007 [2 favorites]


“Democratic Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein did not object specifically to the Dec. 18 date but....We should first address the appalling lack of ownership of media outlets by women and people of color.”

Y’know, this is the kind of thing that gives me that bad “liberal” taste in my mouth. Not to jump on Adelstein, and most certainly to differentiate between philosophical liberal folks and the more slur-type “liberal” that I mean (the counterpart to the oft bandied about “conservative” slur here) this line of thinking really strikes me.
So the problem isn’t that media ownership is being consolidated such that there are only a few companies owning the vast array of newspapers, television, radio, etc. - the problem is it’s not minorities who own them?
So if Rupert Murdoch were only a black megalomaniacal fascist, that’d be just fine? Or is the reverse true, if Murdoch we’re a minority, he then would somehow be virtuous?
Or maybe Adelstein just doesn’t get it.

This is not to say racism doesn’t exist, nor that it shouldn’t be addressed in terms of media ownership. But the implication there is that somehow it needs to be addressed first - then the FCC can go ahead and merge all media into two corporations (one of which is owned by a minority).
Or maybe I don’t get it.

But - I heard (on ‘progressive’ radio) some guy talking about how it’s good to have two kinds of radio on the air (“conservative” and “progressive”) so people can listen to their thing. He dismissed the idea that objective reporting was even possible and asked why bother.

(Reposting the Orwell quote): “indifference to objective truth is encouraged by the sealing off of one part of the world from another, which makes it harder and harder to discover what is actually happening. There can often be doubt about the most enormous events... .The calamities that are constantly being reported -- battles, massacres, famines, revolutions -- tend to inspire in the average person a feeling of unreality. One has no way of verifying the facts, one is not even fully certain that they have happened, and one is always presented with totally different interpretations from different sources. Probably the truth is undiscoverable but the facts will be so dishonestly set forth in that the ordinary reader can be forgiven either for swallowing lies or for failing to form an opinion”

I can’t imagine why a world with two conflicting set of dishonestly set forth facts would be better than, even attempting, earnest inquiry into the objective truth.
Hell, I lean conservative (that’d be old school, as opposed to radical not liberal) but I flush my political view as soon as I see it in conflict with objective reality. I don’t mind being wrong. I don’t feel foolish at it, we all make mistakes from time to time. It’s being wrong because my instrumentation is giving me false (or conflicing) readings is what’s dangerous.

But I guess objective reality doesn’t sell.
posted by Smedleyman at 5:43 PM on October 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


Pope Guilty: Are you so fucking stupid...

Ya know, there's a little thing called CIVILITY, and it's generally on display on MeFi, particularly when responding to someone's comment in which no hostility or personal animosity was displayed.

You might look into it.

You fuckwit.
posted by davidmsc at 7:42 PM on October 29, 2007


Guys, the fiction of "public airways" should be abolished.

And don't even get me started on all these other assholes using the route I've claimed to drive to work every day.
posted by chundo at 9:58 PM on October 29, 2007


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