Senate Wants to Slow Down FCC on Media Ownership Rules
After watching how a tightly controlled media can cheerlead us into war, it may get worse, but not if a growing number of Senators have their way.
FCC Chairman Michael Powell’s headlong rush to relax media ownership rules in June has run into opposition from Congress, thank goodness. The intriguing part is that the latest charge against Powell’s early Christmas present allowing Corporate America to own even more of our media outlets than they already do is coming from Republicans, in addition to the long-standing opposition from Democratic Senator Fritz Hollings. Senators Olympia Snowe and Wayne Allard (Colorado) are leading the charge to stop the June FCC vote, according to this piece in Editor and Publisher. Snowe has shown her independence from the GOP playbook of late with her opposition to a large Bush tax cut. But Allard, who just was re-elected with significant White House help in a tough race against Tom Strickland will not need any help from this White House for years, if then.
As intriguing as the people lining up to slow down the GOP-dominated FCC on its drive to eliminate diversity of opinion and editorial content, are the reasons and views of some of those involved. Powell, for example, think that the poor quality of programming and the lack of diversity are the result of too much competition. Does he really think that having fewer people in charge of what we read, see, and hear will improve diversity? And Allard is against the consolidation not because he has suddenly become a diversity convert. It is because he is afraid that he will have to pay more for political advertising now that the Denver Post and the Rocky Mountain News have consolidated their media advertising operations. Of course Allard could deal with that problem by simply requiring the media to provide some degree of free advertising as part of a broader campaign reform package, but that would go against other principles, I guess.
Michael Powell is prepared to go ahead with the June 2 vote anyway, even though he hasn’t disclosed the FCC’s plans in this area after that vote. And for a look at how deregulation already on the books has affected a small-market area in Montana, check out this story.