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Recent FCC Rulings Threaten Indy Media -- Fight Back!
by Arthur Stamoulis
Email: insubordination (nospam) earthlink.net
19 Feb 2002
The Federal Communications Commission is a government agency that could help make media beautiful. Instead, the FCC using its power to collapse control of the media into the hands of fewer and fewer transnational corporations. Dig this…
Turning Media Oligopolies into Media Monopolies
Just two days after the tragedies of September 11, while most Americans were still trying to cope with the shock and trauma, the never-say-die FCC decided to "review" its own regulations on media cross-ownership. A rule that currently prevents a corporation from owning newspapers and television stations in the same city (aka "market") is now under serious threat. If overturned, locally-owned newspapers, and even newspaper conglomerates like the New York Times Company, Gannett and Knight-Ridder, could be bought up by such community-friendly giants as General Electric, Disney, Viacom and AOL/Time-Warner.
This "review" could extend even further into areas like limits on the size and scope of corporations’ broadcasting power. One current regulation says that a single corporation can only own enough television stations to reach 35% of American households. If dismantled, a single television network like ABC could potentially buy up the holdings of the few remaining independents and its major competitors. "No more ‘Seventh Heaven’ in Cleveland, I’m afraid. The WB affiliate’s just been bought by Disney!"
So really, what does this mean to you? A single transnational corporation—with absolutely no allegiance to your own community, only to its stockholders and advertisers—could own and control the daily and weekly newspapers you read, in addition to the television stations you watch, the radio stations you listen to, the movie theaters and video stores you frequent, the magazines you peruse, the music labels you buy, the internet service provider you use and even the sports teams you root for. Okay, but so what?
In a media monopoly, synergistic opportunities to make more money (like stories about the Pets.com sock puppet or the latest happenings on "Survivor") are hyped to the point of making you nauseous. At the same time, really important stories that just might happen to threaten the monopoly’s profits (like coverage of the environmental impact of an advertiser’s product, or better yet, recent FCC policy decisions) get seriously downplayed. That monopoly on information is bad for you and it’s bad for democracy.
For more information on the government’s plans to eliminate the last remaining media ownership limits, check out MediaChannel’s in-depth guide explaining the issues and steps you can take to get involved:
Slamming the Door Shut on an Open Access Internet
Right now, any company that wants to be an internet service provider can use America’s telephone lines to do so. It’s called open access. If you want email or web-hosting or instant messaging, you can use your telephone lines to dial-up to Earthlink, AOL, Jimmy’s Internet Shack, and dozens of other companies willing to sell those services to you.
If you want high-speed internet access over your cable lines, that is another story. Most cable operators are not forced to share their cable lines with other broadband companies. So, in many areas, if you want super-cool cable internet access, there is only one show in town. You pay their monopoly rates, and if they choose to do so, the potential exists for them to limit the types of websites you get to visit.
Right now, major cable giants like Comcast (which is trying to swallow up AT&T’s cable operations to become the largest cable company in the world) are pressing the FCC hard to make sure that doesn’t change. But it gets worse…
On Valentine’s Day, the FCC showed its love for Big Business by proposing that regional telephone monopolies get to have complete control over their "souped-up" telephone lines. If the regulation passes, there will be no choice between telephone-based high-speed internet providers just like there is no choice between cable-based high-speed internet providers. (Satellite providers? There are only two major ones in the US, and they’re trying to merge.)
If the massive media conglomerates get their way, the Internet will become as concentrated as television and radio ownership, with everyone across the nation, and the world, watching and listening to the same exact things. Sites like this could quickly go bye-bye. That will probably sit just fine with FCC Chair Michael Powell, who has called public interest regulations "the oppressor." But does it sit fine with you?
To learn more about the threats to open access and ways to combat them, check out the Center for Digital Democracy at:
****DO SOMETHING ABOUT THIS!!!****
Angels of Public Interest Will Descend Upon the FCC
Friday, March 22; 3:00–6:00 PM
445 12th Street NW; Washington, DC
Angels of Public Interest shall descend upon Washington, DC three hours past noon on the 22nd day of March in the vicinity of the Federal Communications Commission at 445 12th Street NW. The Angels shall resolutely teachth those who command power within the FCC that Media and Communications Technology Should Forever Serve People Over Profits.
We encourage all Angels such as yourself to come to the gathering dressed in your best Angel garb—halo, wings, glitter, the whole nine yards.
If your halo and wings are still at the dry cleaner, perhaps you could at least keep with the Angel color-scheme by wearing a solid white or black shirt. Still, an Angel’s presence and attitude are always more important than his or her duds, so if you can’t dress up, don’t worry about it. This is your time to shine!
FCC Chairman Michael Powell has declared "The Market Is My Religion." This most unwise and unrighteous mortal made the mistake of claiming: "The night after I was sworn in, I waited for a visit from the angel of the public interest. I waited all night, but she did not come." Since he had trouble seeing one Angel that dreadful night, on March 22nd we shall descend upon him in droves.
We suggest you question your mortality. Maybe you are an Angel after all? If not, we’re sure Michael Powell would benefit from being in the company of humans, too.
I’M IN. HOW CAN I GET INVOLVED?
Organize yourself and as many other Angels as you can muster to descend upon the FCC at 445 12th Street NW on Friday, March 22, 2002 from 3:00 to 6:00 pm. Bring whatever props and signs and street theatre you think best! This glorious gathering should enlighten, but also offer rapture! Go wild!
If you want to be included in discussions with the Organizing Angels, please sign up for the Media Activist discussion list at: