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FCC Ignores Public, Relaxes Media Ownership 244

anthrax writes "Ignoring Congressional and public comments, the FCC voted to relax ownership rules that have prevented broadcasters from owning newspapers in the nation's 20 largest media markets. After holding several public hearings that overwhelmingly opposed the relaxation of the rules, and Congressional hearing where Democrats and Republicans (even Ted 'Tubes' Stevens) voiced opposition to the move, the FCC voted 3 to 2 to relax ownership. On the same day the FCC voted 3 to 2 (by a different split) to cap the size of any cable company at 30% of the nationwide market, a limit Comcast is up against."
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FCC Ignores Public, Relaxes Media Ownership

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  • by j0nb0y ( 107699 ) <> on Tuesday December 18, 2007 @06:42PM (#21745318) Homepage
    Unelected FCC commissioners making decisions that will have a huge impact on the future of communications in this country... I'm sure this is exactly what the founding fathers had in mind when they drafted the Constitution.
  • by corsec67 ( 627446 ) on Tuesday December 18, 2007 @06:42PM (#21745334) Homepage Journal
    Why does the FCC not do what it is supposed to do, regulating who can use what bands of airwaves, but is quite happy to throw a bunch of unconstitutional fines around for exposing a "forbidden" section of epidermis or saying a "forbidden" word if they don't like the show?
  • by boguslinks ( 1117203 ) on Tuesday December 18, 2007 @06:46PM (#21745386)
    Unelected FCC commissioners making decisions that will have a huge impact on the future of communications in this country... I'm sure this is exactly what the founding fathers had in mind when they drafted the Constitution.

    Considering that the newspaper as we know it is circling the drain, I don't think that any government decision related to newspapers will have "a huge impact on the future of communications in this country."
  • Re:People needed (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kcornia ( 152859 ) on Tuesday December 18, 2007 @06:47PM (#21745398) Journal
    I have karma to burn so feel free to send this to offtopic land, but can we just get a sitewide ban on these lame spam links please? 3 or 4 in this thread alone!
  • by ralf1 ( 718128 ) on Tuesday December 18, 2007 @06:51PM (#21745466)
    Spam - don't follow the link
  • by aeschenkarnos ( 517917 ) on Tuesday December 18, 2007 @07:06PM (#21745692)
    You say "unelected" as if "elected" were a good thing. I for one prefer my civil servants unelected, constrained by law and custom from privately benefiting in any way from their position, and well paid but not highly so. (Frankly, the people who want to run governments as if they were businesses really should fuck off to run businesses instead.) "Elected" to me means, "loudest-hooting monkey in the crowd of hooting monkeys". He who tells the most lies, promises the most outrageously stupid things, and greases the most palms gets elected. To be in a position of power and *unelected*, one must show at least some competence for some length of time. Unless of course appointed by an elected person, in which case, the same problems as with election apply.

    The last four decades have shown up the 'bug' in democracy, and it is this: there is nothing constraining a politician to tell the truth, the whole truth, while in office or campaigning for office. Given that bug, the whole system is compromised.

  • by PhxBlue ( 562201 ) on Tuesday December 18, 2007 @07:08PM (#21745706) Homepage Journal

    In either case, I get more news off the Internet now, and from non-established sources (e.g. not CNN, not Fox, not the NYT)... I suspect that more of my fellow humans do as well - more than any media corp would ever be willing to admit, even to themselves.

    Maybe so. But the rest of the masses will be reading print versions of the drek that appears on Fox News -- or alternately, the drek that is Wolf Blitzer and Lou Dobbs on CNN. People who want real news will have to seek out the print version [] of "The Daily Show."

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 18, 2007 @07:08PM (#21745720)
    Older folks still read newspapers and vote in greater numbers than younger folks.
  • by garett_spencley ( 193892 ) on Tuesday December 18, 2007 @07:36PM (#21746010) Journal
    So ... if you write up a resume, throw it around to various companies; phone them to follow up and make sure they got it; have some former co-workers or bosses ready to tell someone a bunch of good things about you and then go to an interview to brag about your skills and end up finally getting the job because a group of individuals sat down and decided that your campaign for the position was the most impressive (or at least the most convincing and impressive series of exaggerations, false promises and downright lies) how is exactly is that different then campaigning to get elected for a government position ?

    The way I see it campaigning for any "regular" job and campaigning for an "elected" government position is pretty much the same thing. The only difference is the number of people voting for you and the number of people you will be working for if you get the position.
  • by Original Replica ( 908688 ) on Tuesday December 18, 2007 @07:38PM (#21746048) Journal
    Considering that the newspaper as we know it is circling the drain

    But the companies will still have undue influence of the press. Having a free press isn't just about not having government interference, but also about having a diverse enough job market for journalists that they are not simply serfs in a corporate fiefdom. At least with the 30% ownership law, we will still have three media outlets left in ten years. Of course there is nothing preventing them from having many of the same people on all three Board of Directors. [] Face it, whoever controls the "tone" of the media can pick the winner of major elections. That's what all these giant elections funds are about, advertising. Now if big media become even more highly concentrated, then big election funds become secondary to being blessed by those who tell mainstream America what to think.
  • by Original Replica ( 908688 ) on Tuesday December 18, 2007 @07:52PM (#21746196) Journal
    Why would the founders be appalled by the office of FCC commissioner?

    Because the founders also wrote in, a free press. Having three giant corporations controlling all of mass media isn't free. That's why there were ever restrictions on how many newspapers or radio stations or television channel any one company could own. Whatever size chuck of the media one group controls, it is that same size chunk of the electorate that they can spin towards the candidate of their choosing. Imagine if we only had Fox News, or only had Air America. You can see how that might give one company undue influence. Just look at what happened to the quality of pop music since ClearChannel has be allowed to take over radio stations all over the country. Now apply that to the quality (and pay for play) of all of the news that mainstream America gets.
  • Set back... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by yroJJory ( 559141 ) <> on Tuesday December 18, 2007 @08:14PM (#21746404) Homepage
    When Bush was "selected" back in November 2000, all of my friends were very depressed, moping around saying "Our country's progress has just been turned back 25 years."

    I guess it's at least 32 years now.

  • by Smidge204 ( 605297 ) on Tuesday December 18, 2007 @08:20PM (#21746448) Journal
    I'm pretty sure the "damage potential" is related to the job, and independent of the means to getting that job.

    County judges are elected. Last I checked, a county judge couldn't do a fraction of the damage an appointed supreme court judge could. Fire department chiefs are elected, Michael Brown was appointed head of FEMA just before Hurricane Katrina, etc.
  • by Bartab ( 233395 ) on Tuesday December 18, 2007 @08:29PM (#21746528)
    Because the founders also wrote in, a free press. Having three giant corporations controlling all of mass media isn't free.

    Yeah, they would be appalled. Appalled that people turned to gov't instead of opening their own printing press.
  • by anthrax ( 23655 ) on Tuesday December 18, 2007 @08:37PM (#21746588)
    What happens when the FCC allows bandwidth providers like Verizon to start filtering the content that crosses their networks? Where will we turn when the Internet in the US is censored by corporate interests (like Murdoch) instead of allowing the free exchange of ideas? Then where the public go for news and information? The further consolidation of how and where information is gather, disseminated and filtered will have a massive negative impact for all Americans. There is but one law that stands the test of time, the law of unintended consequences. It could have been worse, some on the FCC panel wanted to go much further, but this is still a bad move.
  • by Shakrai ( 717556 ) * on Tuesday December 18, 2007 @08:52PM (#21746722) Journal

    I think the whole point of TFA is that the news has a great impact for just about any part of our life. (how's that for vague!)

    Hey I'm all about the news. My childhood heroes weren't astronauts or generals. They were journalists. The free press is our first line of defense against everything from abusive Government officials/policies to corporations poisoning our natural resources. I can think of few things more important then ensuring an independent media, beholden to nobody (Government OR Corporate) with a mandate to inform the public.

    That said, I've grown extremely weary of the 24 hour news cycle. Anchors that talk to each other so they can make the story they've already run ten times sound fresh. "Experts" with agendas. Shows like Crossfire that boil the most complex of issues down into two extremist points of view and call it "debate".... over here on my left I have "aging hippie liberal douche" while over here on the right I have "pissed off white trash redneck conservative".

    All of the above annoys me. But I get downright pissed off when I think of the priorities of the 24 hour news cycle. Like endless coverage of the court battles related to Anna Nicole Smith. Or the fucking aerial coverage of Paris Hilton reporting to jail. They have twenty four hours to fill and waste it on this garbage instead of covering the war? What the fuck is that?

    To quote America (The Book) []:

    A free and independent press is essential to the health of a functioning democracy. It serves to inform the voting public on matters relevant to its well-being. Why they've stopped doing that is a mystery. I mean, 300 camera crews outside a courthouse to see what Kobe Bryant is wearing when the judge sets his hearing date, while false information used to send our country to war goes unchecked? What the fuck happened? These spineless cowards in the press have finally gone too far. They have violated a trust. "Was the president successful in convincing the country?" Who gives a shit? Why not tell us if what he said was true?

  • Internet News? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mosb1000 ( 710161 ) <> on Tuesday December 18, 2007 @09:11PM (#21746892)
    You posted that comment on an internet news site. Just thought I'd point that out.
  • by sgt_doom ( 655561 ) on Tuesday December 18, 2007 @09:24PM (#21747020)
    Circulation is dropping rapidly, and digital presence will soon be as, if not more, important than print editions.

    Say it ain't so!!!

    I mean, they (moronic newsies, half-witted pundits, talking headjobs, etc., ad nauseum) constantly yap at us that they are giving us the "content" we demand - yet if that were truly and honestly the case, circulation would not - and continue to - drop.

    Obviously, they are feeding us pure crapola (except, perhaps, for those McClatchy newspapers which are about the ONLY newspapers in America which still actually print truthful, non-propaganda articles - also, the various alternative political newspapers throughout the country such as this wonderful example []).

    I frankly (sorry Newty) can't understand why anyone would read any American news instead of following the more (usually) honest international news or the standard blog spots (Bradblog, Buzzcom, Thinkprogress, Commondreams, Waynemadsenreport,, liberalavenger, etc.)

  • Re:Thank God (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Blue Stone ( 582566 ) on Tuesday December 18, 2007 @10:04PM (#21747348) Homepage Journal
    It's a noble sentiment you speak, but the government here in Britain, is as corporate, as corrupt, as oligarchical and as authoritarian as the government in the USA at the moment - if not more so. Seems to be the way of democracies of late. How we can turn things round, fuck knows, but here's hoping we start addressing why things become so autoritatrian and design copper-bottomed protections against such things once we do chuck out the latest bunch of tin-pot dictators and their acolytes.
  • by homey of my owney ( 975234 ) on Tuesday December 18, 2007 @10:31PM (#21747514)
    So tell me... Exactly what DID the framers of the constitution have in mind with regard to 20th century media?
  • by Shakrai ( 717556 ) * on Wednesday December 19, 2007 @12:00AM (#21748072) Journal

    I agree with most everything you said. Except that part where your liberal bias was showing! Cover that up now and then

    If 'liberal bias' == 'wants a free and independent press' then guilty as charged. Try as I might, I couldn't locate any examples of prominent conservative media personalities that support the principle of the free press.

    don't give away everything on the first date

    Don't you wish you could find out ;)

  • by eh2o ( 471262 ) on Wednesday December 19, 2007 @12:56AM (#21748382)
    The newspaper industry has historically had one of the highest profit margins of any market, and while some forces have shifted, they are not really in serious danger provided they are willing to adapt. Newspapers have readily taken up internet mediums, and continue to sell dead tree format.

    Interestingly, a 2007 study analyzed over a decade of financial data and concluded that newspaper profits are more closely linked to story quality than circulation. This decision allows big media to rely on circulation and de-facto market saturation to maintain their profits instead of competition in the area of high quality investigative journalism. The fact that investigative journalism also tends to uncover all sorts of corruption and other "uncomfortable" topics is a nice benefit that sweetens the deal all around.

    It's no secret that FCC commissioners get hired for obscene salaries by media conglomerates as soon as they step down. Make no mistake, Kevin Martin will be rewarded handsomely for delivering this decision to the tune of millions. This is nothing short of criminal bribery.

    Watching the public commentary sessions was interesting, too. Not only was all this information laid out in plain view, but people were just tearing into commissioner Martin -- and people coming from all parts of the political spectrum.

  • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Wednesday December 19, 2007 @01:15AM (#21748492)
    Older folks still read newspapers and vote in greater numbers than younger folks.

    No they don't (read newspapers) - they hate today's media. By and large they have moved onlline.

    All the older people I know (my family, plus other people's family) are all online. Even if they don't have a computer they just use the library - wander down to the library sometime and have a look at who is using the systems.

    If old people are still reading newspapers, how come readership is dropping dramatically across the country - we've not past the bell curve of baby boomers really dying in large numbers yet.

God help those who do not help themselves. -- Wilson Mizner