Unclear channels of change

Roger D. Smith is a concerned citizen from Loomis

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) was created to regulate communications and media in the public interest. Currently, under the chairmanship of Michael Powell (Secretary of State Colin Powell’s son), the FCC is planning to eliminate or relax all the remaining rules that pertain to the consolidation and domination of media ownership. This is wrong!

The FCC’s media-ownership rules were designed to prevent individual companies from exerting too much control over what we see, hear and read, to ensure citizens have access to a wide range of news, information and programming, including diverse viewpoints.

FCC rules already were relaxed in 1996, resulting in unprecedented consolidation of media ownership. For example, Clear Channel Communications went from owning fewer than 50 radio stations to owning more than 1,200 stations nationwide. Here in Sacramento, among the stations Clear Channel owns are both KFBK (1530) and KSTE (650), which results in a one-sided spew of conservative viewpoints dominating local talk-radio airwaves 24 hours a day.

In many locales, such consolidation also has led to the virtual elimination of local news and programming and has decreased competition. Also troubling is the fact that, since the U.S. invasion of Iraq, Clear Channel has forbidden its stations to play any music with an anti-war message.

The Powell plan would eliminate all remaining media-ownership rules. Today, these rules make it difficult for one company to own both a newspaper and a TV station serving the same community. (Imagine Clear Channel owning the Bee or SN&R!) They also cap the number of TV or radio stations one owner can control in a single area and the number of TV stations that one company can own nationwide.

Powell repeatedly has rejected attempts at citizen and congressional input and has never released the actual wording of the proposed new regulations to the public. Sound fishy?

The adage “Control the media, and you control the politics” warns of the danger in unregulated media ownership. Some regulations must be preserved.

You can help. Write or call the FCC and your congressional representatives immediately and demand that they oppose this secretive, rushed rulemaking, which is scheduled for completion by June 2. You can stay abreast of this issue online at www.media-alliance.org.