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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 Penguinisto ( 415985 ) on Tuesday December 18, 2007 @06:49PM (#21745448) Journal
    Well, it may (probably will) end up being a more propagandized operation, but there are outcomes that most media owners may not have anticipated:

    * the newspaper dies, in favor of locally-owned websites that provide the same info, networked across other regional/local sites to become a loosely-knit news org in its own right (and unlike FreeBSD, the megacorp-owned newspaper really is losing relevance and readership to the web site... now if only these sites could start talking to each other).

    * the independant papers, stations, and etc. pick up credibility among the more clued-in folks out there (and in many areas, already has. Most big towns/cities have one or more free weekly papers that do very well by giving the paper away for free and charging for ads).

    * CNN, Fox, MSNBC, etc. start losing eyeballs to more regionally-oriented channels (e.g. NWCN in the Portland-Seattle corridor, where you get news that's local enough to matter directly, but regional and global enough to keep you apprised of stuff you might want or need to know. Yes it's run by Comcast, but it does open more than a couple of doors to competing local interests who want to do similar things).

    * Local indie stations get a larger audience as propaganda-weary listeners decide that they really don't like their news in 'Clear-Channel-beige' anymore. If my little corner of the planet is any indication, it's already begun to happen.

    While these may or may not ever occur, the possibilities are there, and as naive as it may sound, I tend to put at least a little faith in the ability of a contrary and loud-mouthed population such as that found in the US to devise their own alternate solutions to media-megacorp-induced propaganda.

    IMHO, Yellow Journalism has never really went away - it merely diversified. We merely get glimpses and bits of occasional integrity swimming in an ocean of propagandistic crap, with alternating currents of barely-masked opinion clashing against each other on a constant basis.

    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.


  • How the hell? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ( 1195047 ) <philip DOT paradis AT palegray DOT net> on Tuesday December 18, 2007 @06:50PM (#21745460) Homepage Journal
    Quoth the article header: " 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."

    How the hell does that work, anyhow? Does the ISP start turning down new subscribers ("Sorry folks, we're all full up on business here, please try our competition")?

    I've got to be misunderstanding it somehow. Please help me out here.

  • Sirius/XM (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 18, 2007 @06:53PM (#21745488)
    And yet 11 months in and they have yet to decide anything about the sirius/XM merger.

    Good work, what a flaming mess of a country this has turned into.
  • Ignores Congress? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Xeth ( 614132 ) on Tuesday December 18, 2007 @06:53PM (#21745500) Journal

    If Congress genuinely opposed the maneuver, couldn't they simply pass a law enacting the restrictions they wanted? My understanding is that executive departments need to operate within the law. The legislative decides, the executive abides.

    Now, if the bought and paid for congressmen just wanted to appear populist while not actually doing anything, I suppose simply speaking out against the decision would do fine.
  • Re:Thank God (Score:5, Interesting)

    by FudRucker ( 866063 ) on Tuesday December 18, 2007 @06:54PM (#21745536)
    the US Government has become more evil than the government we once fought to gain independence from in the first place, is it too late to surrender to the British? sorry about that mess back in 1776...
  • Re:Bill Moyers piece (Score:4, Interesting)

    by nebaz ( 453974 ) on Tuesday December 18, 2007 @07:51PM (#21746194)
    As much as I have issues with the current Executive Branch, it is an act of Congress that created the FCC, and Congress that ultimately has the responsibility to regulate things. Any laws they create take precident over the FCC. They are more to blame than the executive branch, who is at least consistent in it's views about most things (pro-big-business). Delegating the responsibility of regulating the airwaves to 5 people seems the ultimate in shirking responsibilities, in my opinion. I realize that it is not this congress that created the FCC, but maybe if we had fewer 3 letter agencies, and actually had Congress directly make policy, they would be busy enough to actually have to do work, instead of grandstand about trivial issues. It's a lot harder to bribe 250 people than 3. Nowhere in the constitution does it say anything about any government entity having the ability to delegate its authority to a smaller body.
  • by TeraCo ( 410407 ) on Tuesday December 18, 2007 @08:52PM (#21746718) Homepage
    You're mistake is in assuming that Jim Iraqi is going to come in and start running Sharia law for the country.

    He won't be. It will be your friend Bob who used to work at the plant before he converted, and so on. It's easier to imagine a massive civil war where you're shooting up people who look differently, but if your friends and family are devout muslims are you really going to take it to them?

    The merging of the media plays into this in part. Everyone in the states hates muslims now because TV says they're bad, but in 50 years time TV could be talking about how fantastic muslim life is. Episodes of Friend 2050 would have Phoebe Jr forgetting her hijab with hillarious consequences and people will be lining up in the streets to get some of this religious action.

    Cultural conversion can't be stopped by guns, because by the time you get to the point where a military uprising is appropriate you've already lost.
  • by Penguinisto ( 415985 ) on Tuesday December 18, 2007 @08:55PM (#21746754) Journal

    Why hasn't this already happened then? How will a injection of new network funds and resources, including the benefit of cross-media promotion, hasten the already non-existant rush from core dailies to free-at-the-Starbucks independents? Wishful thinking.

    Not sure which one you're referring to, but I'll take a stab and assume that you're talking ab't regional news channels...

    Ironically, when it comes to anything broadcast, the FCC is the biggest obstacle (followed closely by capital funding). Cable channels are OTOH a bit different, at least insofar as it doesn't require the massive amounts of dough for an FCC license, a bit of the spectrum, a metric assload of equipment, etc etc.

    NWCN manages it because it's jointly funded by Comcast. That said, I don't see why a small start-up couldn't get just enough funding for a channel, a decent studio, and a small but reliable set of crews and resources. It would cost roughly as much as setting up a new car franchise, say... which puts it well within reach of local funding sources. Team up with the local colleges and use their journalism (and tech) near-grads as cheap but reliable anchors, staff, and talking heads. Get local (but cool) opinionators to come on from time to time, and get people like a local Mayor or city councilcritter to give interviews. Get in good with the cops and firefighters. Having a unique local flavor to it all will get you a better leg-up w/ the local movers and shakers, than some blow-dried putz from halfway across the continent could manage. Team up with the city weeklies. Cripes - the ideas and tips could go on for quite awhile.

    Do some dumb stories. Do some funny stories. Look for things which have national as well as regional news-worthiness, so you can pass it along to a similar station somewheres else under Creative Commons or somesuch (that way the big news outlets are forced to credit you properly... which will either chafe them to no end, or they pass up on the content - either way you win if it's entertaining or at least far better than what they can deliver).

    The hard part is to get the ball rolling. To get the dough. Hell, start a weekly show on the local cable access channel (but with decent equipment) and take out an ad in the weeklies for it... if it's any good, odds are it will grow. If it sucks, well, it can't be any worse than "Godess Galactica" [] (no, that's not a typo), and her show's been on public access for eons now.

    Sounds like fun, actually... not quite in a creepy "I'll never be Ted Turner but damn it'd be cool to get local chicks who look way better than Fonda ever did" kind of way, but more like in the "hey - I actually attempted something that made a diff for once" kinda way.


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

    by moosesocks ( 264553 ) on Tuesday December 18, 2007 @10:42PM (#21747598) Homepage
    As an American recently moved to the UK, I can easily say that, although the British media is generally much, much better that that of the US, most British newspapers are absolute shite.

    Newspapers in Britain on par with the likes of the New York Post (eg. The Sun and The Daily Mail) are held in high regard, whereas Americans generally accept tabloids as inexpensive entertainment that can be easily purchased via subway station or grocery checkout (which is a completely fair, and accurate assessment).

    On the other hand, The New York Times, Washington Post, and the like, are actually decently respectable media outlets that, though respected, are generally ignored by the general public in favor of whatever is mentioned in church, or on the telly.

    It's a bit of a paradox. (You could also consider the fact that the Brits aren't exactly held in very strong regard in the international community, unless being compared to America...)

    And yes. I will 100% blame the media for the fact that George Bush somehow still has a 25% approval rating. How the hell does a quarter of the population believe that this man is doing an acceptably good job? No matter which political ideology you subscribe to, he's been a miserable failure on all accounts. Also that a quarter of the US population doesn't believe in Global Warming (not that it's necessarily caused by human activity, but that it's happening at all!!)
  • by DietPepsiAddict ( 894710 ) on Wednesday December 19, 2007 @03:43PM (#21755098)
    California's political capital, and we've got *one*: The Sacramento Bee.
    We USED to have two (The Bee & The Mercury), but then the Bee bought Mercury and that was the end of any chance of unbiased reporting.

    My little brother & I used to deliver the Bee back when they had competition.
    The paper had to be neat, properly ordered, folded, properly wrapped for the weather, & delivered NLT 5am (6am on Sundays).

    Now, I'm lucky if I get my paper by 7am, it's NEVER in order, & rarely "neat" nor folded.
    I have to spend the first thirty minutes just restructuring the damned thing so it looks like I might have purchased it from a publication that gave a damn about its image.
    (If there was a 'box anywhere near, I'd walk to it and buy it every morning - at least then I'd get a usable copy.)
    Complaining has done absolutely *nothing* - they don't care, there IS no competition in this town.

    On any given day, you'll be hard-pressed to find ANY page that does not include an ad (and more-often-than-not, a pair of full-page, full-colour ads back-to-back), and the front-page, above-the-fold story is usualy something better left to the Sports or Entertainment section.
    Stories about our government giving us the shaft?
    Those are buried as single paragraph blurbs in the side-bar on page Z-257 in the middle of the Viagra & "Massage Therapist" ads.

    If you want NEWS in this town, you go online for it & get it from the API, Reuters, BBC, CNN, NBC, et al.
    Because the ONE local newspaper we have is more an advertising supplement & "touchy-feely" rag unfit for lining the parrot cage.

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