Senate Tries To Roll Back FCC Ownership Rules; Apparently Still Hasn't Heard Of The Internet

from the media-options dept

Late last year, the FCC decided to relax media ownership rules in a really minor way. Basically, with the FCC ruling, a newspaper could purchase an also-ran TV station. It could only buy a station that wasn’t in the top 4 in the market. Yet, this got people up in arms over some nefarious “media consolidation” claims. Yet, these claims make no sense. There are more media outlets than ever before in history, and there are more ways and more sources to get your news from than ever before in history. Yes, many of them are online, but that doesn’t change the fact that they exist. But apparently, the Senate is unaware of that. It has started a process to invalidate the FCC’s changes, claiming that it’s “not healthy for this country” to only have a few major media outlets. That might be a point worth debating if it were true, but it’s not. Meanwhile, no one’s explained what’s so problematic about a newspaper company owning a TV station at the same time. Considering that it only applies to 5th ranked or beyond TV stations, it’s not as if it will somehow block out the voices from other stations.

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Comments on “Senate Tries To Roll Back FCC Ownership Rules; Apparently Still Hasn't Heard Of The Internet”

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José Luis (profile) says:

Yes and No...

I agree with the fact that there are today a lot of media outlets than ever before (and that a lot of those are more or less independent), so laws like these should disappear (we use to have one in my country).

However, i think that in the interest of democracy (in every country) this should be pushed in time for 10 years (at least). The fact is that a large part of the population does not use the internet. The net is still not as widespread in use as we (regular and avid users) like to thing. Keeping in place some limits to enhance chances of non-internet users seems like a good thing to me (at present time).

anonymous says:

mike, get a clue. the MAJOR sources of news and information to MOST of the US is controlled by a handful of conglomerates.
whether or not you LIKE it, the internet is not the end-all-beat-all of competition. get your head out of the internet-koolaid and quit glorifying what is to date a MINOR source of news and information. i WISH it were true that the internet was just as relevant as the over the air sources, but it just is not. people in the US just don’t have the desire to do any WORK to get alternate points of view, they would rather just sit on thier ever-expanding asses on their overstuffed couches and just push the remote control over to the next mindless entertainment show.

r. decline (profile) says:

media access

so i’m allowed to use the internet and become one of a zillion blogs or podcasts..but i have to put up with several companies owning most other media outlets? BS. not to mention most people do not get immediate news on their area from the internet. they get it from tv and radio. when we had a tornado hit the area you could immediately tell which stations were piped in pre-programed stations…they were the ones showing cartoons or playing led zeppelin instead of shelter locations/closed streets/further storm warnings.
then there is a speech issue of course, as in, a large company is allowed a station broadcast to spill out whatever messages it wants but i’m not allowed to but i’ve been thrown the internet bone so its ok? well as the slogans go..

Edward says:

I usually agree with your articles (around 75-80% of the time), but I strongly disagree with this one.

The monopolization of media, much like the centralization and increased bureaucratization of the central government or the decreasing of civil liberties, always comes in the form of relatively minor but consistent incremental changes.

So while the FCC rule, according to your black and white portrayal that is not very accurate (yes, IAAL) permits a newspaper to “buy a station that wasn’t in the top 4 in the market,” I would point to the recent trends of said subject matter and predict it would not take long before the rule is evicerated completely. Also, just FYI, according to this rule, it is very possible that the sole newspaper in a small town also owns the sole television news affiliate/subsidiary (keep in mind that because this is a small town, neither outlet is top 4 in the broader “market”).

“[N]o one’s explained what’s so problematic about a newspaper company owning a TV station at the same time.”

I don’t have the time to go over the reasons, but if you’re genuinely interested in finding an answer, you can begin your research by looking at the “free” media in Russia.

A true problem, as hinted above, is also present when a population/town/whatever only receives news from one outlet. While the internet might be useful, the people who probably need access to it most do not even know how to turn on a computer.

Duane (profile) says:

Re: Couldn't agree with you more if I put it on a t-shirt

To put it simply, more views on the news is always a better condition than less.

What’s happened to radio is a crying shame, and it’s exactly this sort of program that has caused it to happen. Just imagine if your local news were delivered by someone in Miami or your local coverage went away because it’s not cost-effective. That’s what happened with radio.

Also, consider the hidden “synergies” that come into play here.
If you advertise on Channel A, you get a slot on Channel A. If you advertise on Channel B, why they’ll throw in a free radio spot on one of their stations. Boom, less revenue for Channel A. Eventually, Channel A goes under and now there’s only one source for news in your town and they are beholden more to the bottom line than your city or town.

I don’t often support government interference, but in this instance, I do.

Derek Kerton (profile) says:

Who Shepherds The Flock?

Let’s say, hypothetically, that some people are sheep, and some people make up their own opinions. Which group of people do you think more likely to be tuning into radio and TV, and which group is more likely to log in to the net?

Of course, these distinctions are not absolute, but I think we have are more ‘ignant’ and controllable citizens mostly creating their views as they watch the ‘great’ content presented to them by mainstream media.

Rupert and Clear Channel have far too great an influence on those that can be influenced. In a winner-take-all electoral system, shifting a few easily manipulated swing votes makes the difference between winning and losing executive power. That means that media control can quickly mean policy control.

A few voices of reason in the blogoshpere, mixed with a million other voices and wackos, does not level the playing field.

BTR1701 (profile) says:


> Considering that it only applies to 5th ranked
> or beyond TV stations, it’s not as if it will
> somehow block out the voices from other stations.

I wonder what happens if a newspaper buys a TV station that’s ranked 6th in the market when they make the purchase but after a year or so, moves up in market share to the point where it’s now 4th or 3rd?

Jobeesh says:

Not true

yes, the internet exists but the consolidation of media world wide is a serious issue. While there are more an more new avenues they are almost exclusively owned by right wing enormous media corporations that are, some more than others, pushing an agenda that keeps people watching their stations. So, yes, you can get your news on the internet, but to say that the proliferation of media conglomerates is not a problem is naive.

AMusingFool (profile) says:

plenty of reliable sources?

Hmm… If there are plenty of sources of information, why did 2/3 (it might have even been 3/4; I forget) of the US population believe that Sadam Hussein was personally involved in the planning and execution of the 9/11 attacks when we attacked Iraq? Why did 1/3 of the US still believe that two years later? There were plenty of people saying it wasn’t true online. In the mass media? Not so much.

We still need those ownership rules. Hopefully not for too much longer, but for now, we definitely do.

Ben says:

Consolidation of TV news in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Pa.

A bit of an anomaly exists here in northeastern Pennsylvania as a case study. The dominant news station, the ABC affiliate, has one of the highest Nielsen ratings in the country (based on audience percentage, not sheer number of eyeballs). Because of “duopoly” rules (the ability to own two stations in a market), the CBS and NBC stations could not compete and were purchased by the same media group. Both channels now share the same newsroom, and occasionally simulcast the same news program. The Fox station doesn’t have a news department, so it contracts the ABC station to produce it’s 10:00 news. The WB station is also owned by the same company as the Fox station, so they don’t produce news. The My Network station in Williamsport, Pa. penetrates into this market, and is owned by the same company as the Fox and WB stations, resulting in an odd “triopoly”. So all of the broadcast news is emanating from two newsrooms: one dominant, the other weak. Needless to say, there are few jobs in the television industry as a result.

Say what you want, but without any caps, big media corporations keep hoarding the pie for themselves, which leaves the viewer stuck with no alternatives.

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