Common Cause, Tuesday, June 13, 2006
Remember back to June 2003, when over 2 million Americans from across the political spectrum sent a message to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) urging it not to allow big media companies to get even bigger?  Well, the FCC is considering revamping the rules again.  
We are calling on current FCC chairman Kevin Martin to guarantee that the rulemaking process be transparent, that a number of public hearings be held, and that the actual language of any proposed rules be made public with adequate time for public input before the FCC takes a vote.
Back in 2003 when former Chairman Michael Powell was in charge of the process, the public was not given time to review the rules or voice their concerns about how the rules would impact their local communities.  Only one public forum was held in Richmond, Virginia, and the rules themselves were never made public prior to the FCC's vote.  The only thing that kept the rules from going into effect was a decision by a Philadelphia court that found that the rules were flawed, and so was the process that produced them.1  This time around we want to make sure the public has a seat at the table.
Media ownership in America is already pretty concentrated.  Did you know that since 1995, the number of companies owning commercial TV stations has declined by 40 percent?2  Did you know that Viacom owns CBS, General Electric owns NBC, Disney owns ABC and News Corp. owns Fox Broadcasting, which in turn runs Fox News Channel?  News Corp. also owns the New York Post, the publisher HarperCollins, and the film production company Twentieth Century Fox.  How much power and influence does that pack, and how much more of our major media should we allow any one corporation to control?
Even though the Internet has increased our ability to access diverse sources of news, major corporations - including AOL/Time Warner, the New York Times, CNN and USA Today (owned by Gannett) - dominate the top Internet news sites.  To get an idea of how big these media companies already are, visit the Columbia School of Journalism's Who Owns What search tool.  
Please join us in this very important campaign and send a letter to Chairman Martin today!
-- The Common Cause Media Reform Team
1 Media Access Project
2 Common Cause report - The Fallout from the Telecommunications Act of 1996