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Proposed FCC Media Consolidation Rules

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Proposed FCC Media Consolidation Rules- by Stephen Lendman

Obama's FCC proposed more media consolidation.

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In October 2007, then FCC chairman Kevin Martin proposed lifting the 1975 media cross-ownership rule. It forbid owning a newspaper and television or radio station in the same city even though conglomerates like Rupert Murdock's News Corp. and the (Chicago) Tribune Company already did. 

On November 13, he expanded his earlier plan, claiming changes would only allow cross ownership "in the largest markets where there exists competition and numerous voices."

At the time, Free Press.net 's policy director Ben Scott said:

"Chairman Martin's lofty rhetoric talks about saving American newspapers and ensuring a diversity of voices. But the devil is in the details. His new rules appear to be corporate welfare for the (media giants) in the biggest cities (and) most worrying....the proposed rules appear to contain a giant loophole that could open the back door to runaway media consolidation in nearly every market (in) another massive giveaway to Big Media."

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After the 1996 Telecommunications Act passed, that's precisely what happened, despite supporters claiming competition would increase, lower prices and service would follow, and according to then vice-president Gore, consumers would get an "early Christmas present." 

In fact, anti-consumer provisions cheated them by letting media and telecom giants consolidate through mergers and acquisitions. Doing so let them raise prices, control content, and compromise how consumers get information and communicate.

Martin wanted cross-ownership limits ended. Consumers, Free Press.net, the Consumer Federation of America, and Consumers Union documentation stopped him by showing ownership limits improve local news quantity and quality.

They refuted inconsistent, incompetent and incoherent FCC claims. They also exposed its duplicitous mid-November press release saying its proposal was just a "minor loosening of the (cross-ownership) ban....in (only) the very largest markets and subject to certain criteria and limitations."

Free Press accurately explained what Martin suppressed, saying:

(1) His "proposal (hides) corporate welfare for Big Media (that will) unleash a buying spree in the top 20 (media) markets."

(2) "Loopholes (through waivers) open the door to cross-ownership" anywhere.

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(3) "Loopholes allow newspapers to own TV stations of any size (and) top-rated stations to (buy) major newspapers."

(4) "FCC history shows weak standards won't protect the public (and) the FCC hasn't denied any temporary waiver request in years."

(5) "Cross-ownership doesn't create more local news" as dominant companies crowd out competition.

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I was born in 1934, am a retired, progressive small businessman concerned about all the major national and world issues, committed to speak out and write about them.

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