Nov
06
2012

FCC Wants to End Persecution of Media Moguls

Orson Welles in Citizen Kane

The L.A. Times (11/6/12) reports that following the election, the Federal Communications Commission appears likely to ease cross-ownership rules–because supposedly nobody cares about that stuff anymore. The article by reporter Jim Puzzanghera tries to work up sympathy for media moguls: Paul Boyle, senior vice president for public policy at the Newspaper Association of America, said the rules make it difficult for investors who have as little as a 5 percent ownership in a broadcast company to buy a newspaper in the same market. Pity the poor billionaire who owns a mere 5 percent of Disney or Time Warner–and still they're […]

Jul
19
2012

Local TV News–Now With Ice Cream!

A new survey from the Radio Television Digital News Association reveals that we're getting more local TV news: For the fourth year in a row, the latest RTDNA/Hofstra University Annual Survey found that the average television station set a new record for the amount of local news aired. Over those last four years, the average amount of weekday news has gone from 4:36 to 5:00 to 5:18 last year. This year, it's up another 12 minutes to five-and-a-half hours per weekday. Of course, the distinction between quantity and quality matters a great deal. Local television news rarely distinguishes itself when […]

May
09
2011

Beyond the 'Vast Wasteland'

On the anniversary of former FCC commissioner Newton Minow's speech decrying television as a "vast wasteland," Chicago News Cooperative columnist James Warren makes an important point: Minow's speech was really about how broadcasters should be forced to do more public affairs programming in return for their free use of the public airwaves: Sitting high above the Loop with Newton Minow, I realized that history buried his lede–to his everlasting good fortune. "Burying the lede" is newspaperese for sticking a story's main point too far down. It partly explains why Monday brings the 50th anniversary of a speech that is now […]

Sep
20
2009

Localism: Corporate Media's Ultimate Bogeyman

On his Media Citizen blog, Free Press' Timothy Karr (9/17/09) has compiled some astounding Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Lou Dobbs quotes propounding a "fear that's laced with paranoia, stoked by misinformation and prejudice and fed to millions of people via powerful media"–namely that "the most anti-American notion of the lot is the idea that we need to reform the media itself": While Beck and his ilk want to portray diversity and localism as a dangerous conspiracy to censor, the fact remains that these ideas have been staples of communications policy since the beginning. The central mandate of the Federal […]

Aug
29
2009

Way Cleared for More 'Excessive Media Consolidation'

On news that "today, a federal court threw out the Federal Communications Commission's rule to cap cable ownership at 30 percent," Free Press (8/28/09) comments "the rule served as an important consumer protection from media consolidation and growing cable cartels, and encouraged diversity in ownership in the cable industry." The media advocacy group's Ben Scott further calls it regrettable that the court tossed out an important public interest protection against excessive media consolidation. Congressional intent in the Cable Act of 1992 is very clear–the goals of federal policy in the cable industry are to promote competition, consumer choice and a […]

Aug
12
2009

Anti-Hate Activists Win S.F. City Media Resolution

The Hispanic/Latino Anti-Defamation Coalition, along with the National Hispanic Media Coalition (8/11/09), "applauds" the San Francisco Board of Supervisors for being "the first elected body to take a stand against hate speech in media" by having approved unanimously a resolution urging the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to conduct a comprehensive investigation on hate speech in media, allowing public participation via public hearings, and for the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to update its 1993 report the "Role of Telecommunications in Hate Crimes." The Supervisors responded to grassroots activists in the Bay Area who have organized to call attention to […]

Jul
16
2009

Telecoms Rally Against 'Transformative' Internet Bill

Free Press campaign coordinator Misty Perez has sent out (7/15/09) a call to action in light of the astonishing figure that "in the first three months of 2009, the phone and cable industries spent at least $20 million to hire more than 400 lobbyists" in an effort to "push for policies that fatten phone and cable profits while leaving us with an Internet that is too expensive and too slow." Why their sense of urgency?: Right now, the FCC is crafting a national broadband plan that could fix our national broadband problem. FCC Commissioner Michael Copps called this plan "the […]

Jun
26
2009

Why I Couldn't Say What Dan Froomkin Said Reporters Should Do

I wrote a short item on Dan Froomkin's firing for FAIR's radio show CounterSpin today: One of the bright spots at the Washington Post media enterprise was Dan Froomkin's column, "White House Watch," for WashingtonPost.com. It often struck us that Froomkin had a whole different attitude–skeptical of those in power, and critical of their journalistic enablers–than most of his colleagues at the Post Co. So it was perhaps not too surprising to hear that Froomkin, one of the Post's most popular online writers, had been fired–not long after his column was placed under the authority of editorial page editor Fred […]

Jun
19
2009

On AT&T's 'Arbitrary Intervention in the Open Internet'

Keeping up with corporate attempts to abuse new media technology, the activists at Free Press (6/18/09) have a new campaign pointing out exactly what's wrong with the fact that "AT&T is allowing Major League Baseball to stream video live to the iPhone on the carrier's 3G network, but is prohibiting other companies like SlingPlayer Mobile from doing the same": Last month, AT&T admitted to restricting the SlingPlayer Mobile iPhone application from streaming live on its 3G network, claiming the service would cause congestion. But now, the New York Times reports that Major League Baseball's live stream "will play regardless of […]

Jun
18
2009

New Medium, Old Story: Telecom Greed

Senator John Kerry's post to the SaveTheInternet.com blog (6/16/09) looks at the fact that "nine of the most popular 10 phones are locked in a deal with one of these big wireless carriers," and how this corporatization limits the new medium: Here's the issue I think we need to wrestle with: Wireless service providers are largely deciding what phone you can use. We don't see that happening in similar markets. Your broadband provider doesn't decide what kind of computer you can connect to at the end of your DSL or cable wire. And 40 years ago, the FCC ruled in […]

Mar
09
2009

Tell the FCC to Keep Public Access Accessible

Today's Democracy Now! (3/9/09) features Amy Goodman reporting that "a House Appropriations subcommittee has… asked the FCC to look into the allegations" of media activists across the country: Community media groups are accusing the telecom giant AT&T of discriminating against local public access channels across the nation, and the deadline for public comment is midnight tonight. The dispute centers around how AT&T delivers public television stations to customers. Instead of putting the stations on individual channels, AT&T has bundled community stations onto a generic channel that can only be navigated through a complex and lengthy process. Public television advocates say […]