URGENT ACTION: FCC "DEREGULATION" OF MEDIA OWNERSHIP
Global Renaissance Alliance
An urgent action from Peace Coalitions for April 28-May 5
The FCC is about to put vital control of media in this country in a very few hands -- and quickly needs to be stopped. Under "deregulation" rules proposed by the Federal Communications Commission, the already dangerous monopoly of TV and radio (and therefore of news, public thought and action) would dramatically worsen. The five corporations that own TV networks would be green-lighted to buy up each other. Local TV and radio stations would be swallowed by larger companies. Local newspapers and broadcast outlets would be allowed to purchase each other.
In a few years, Fox, General Electric and the radio giant Clear Channel - the most ambitious players - would potentially have an iron grip on the way the majority of the public gets its information. These companies have shown no interest in the public good, only in protecting their bottom lines while putting out news that is more deceiving than informing, when not actually right-wing propaganda - witness the leadup to and coverage of the Iraq war. The U.S. Senate Commerce Committee is preparing to hold crucial hearings on the proposed FCC deregulation. FCC chair Michael Powell is promising a vote on the new FCC regulations by June 2. The media giants have spent huge amounts to buy support in Congress and have cleansed their news of any critical reporting on the Bush administration. Breaking with the industry line, mogul Barry Diller recently told Bill Moyers deregulation would greatly increase oligarchic control of media. Join the new Media Challenge! actions. Contact Congress and the FCC to stop this anti-democratic takeover. Here's how to do it:
Media Challenge! Action 1 (essential):
+ Go to www.mediareform.net
+ Click to send your message to your Congressional Representatives and the FCC demanding they retain current media ownership rules.
+ The automatic message will also demand that Congress direct the FCC to extend its June 2 deadline and to release any proposed rule changes for public debate before acting on them. It will further ask Congress to conduct its own public hearings on any FCC rule changes.
Media Challenge! Action 2
Contact these members of the Senate Commerce Committee (essential,
+ Senator John McCain, Phone: (202) 224-2235; Fax: (202) 228-2862;
+ Senator Frtiz Hollings, Phone: (202) 224-6121; fax: 202.224.4293; http://hollings.senate.gov
+ Senator Barbara Boxer, Phone: (202) 224-3553 or (415) 403-0100; fax: 415.956.6701; http://boxer.senate.gov
Contact these FCC Commissioners:
+ Chairman Michael Powell, 202-418-1000, email@example.com + Commissioner Kevin J. Martin: firstname.lastname@example.org
+ Commissioner Kathleen Q. Abernathy:
Sample Letter or Comment to Congress folks and FCC:
Dear ___________(Senator or Commissioner):
Re: Upcoming FCC vote on media deregulation.
Further consolidation of the media in the name of "deregulation" must be halted. The media companies have failed in their public trust to provide unbiased information about most crucial issues, most notably the recent coverage of the war in Iraq. As an American concerned about our democracy, I call on you to challenge the media conglomerates, to open the broadcast spectrum to a diverse range of journalists and opinions, and to reinstate the Fairness Doctrine. Oppose media deregulation.
Media Challenge! Action 3 (helpful).
+ Call or write network news bosses (see contacts below).
+ Tell them you want prominent daily coverage of the upcoming FCC vote, the most important media question in a decade.
+ Challenge them to report on their network's efforts to influence Congress and the FCC via campaign donations.
ABC NEWS CHIEF David Westin. 212.456.6200. fax: 212.456.4292,
ABC NEWS DIRECTOR Mimi Gurbst. 212 456 4050 fax.212 456 2795
ABC SWITCHBOARD (ASK FOR NEWSROOM) 212.456-7777. NEWSROOM fax 212.456.2795
MSNBC NEWS CHIEF Mark Effron. 201.583.5101. fax: 201.583.5199, email@example.com
MSNBC NEWS DIRECTOR Alison Hawley. 201 583 5155, fax. 201 583 5512
MSNBC SWITCHBOARD (ASK FOR NEWSROOM) 201.583.5000, fax: 201.583.5590
NBC NEWS CHIEF Neil Shapiro. 212.664.4773. fax: 212.664.2264, firstname.lastname@example.org
NBC NEWS DIRECTOR Thomas Ferraro 201 583 5231 fax 201 583 5222
NBC SWITCHBOARD (ASK FOR NEWSROOM) 212.664.4444. fax: 201.583.5453
CBS NEWS CHIEF Andrew Hayward. 212.975.7825. fax: 212.975.7429. email@example.com
NEWS DIRECTOR Marty Gill 212 975 6121 fax. 212 9754114
CBS SWITCHBOARD (ASK FOR NEWSROOM) 212.975.4321 fax: 212.975.1893
CNN NEWS CHIEF Eason Jordan. 404.827.5111. fax: 404.827.4215. firstname.lastname@example.org
CNN NEWS DIRECTOR Kim Bondy. 404 827 1500. fax. 404 827 1099
CNN NEWSROOM 404.827.1500 . 404.827.1500. email@example.com,
PBS FACTUAL PROGRAMMING CHIEF Sandy Heberer 703.739.5036
PBS NEWS CHIEF, SANDY SOWERS 703-998-2150 firstname.lastname@example.org
PBS SWITCHBOARD (ASK FOR NEWSROOM) 703.998.2600.
FOX NEWS CHIEF: John Moody. 212.301.8560. fax: 212.398.8726.
NEWS DIRECTOR Kathleen Ardleigh 212 3013186 fax. 212-301-5067
FOX SWITCHBOARD (ASK FOR NEWSROOM) 212.575.4670. fax: 212.301.8274
MEDIA CHALLENGE! is co-sponsored by: Projects4Peace, ICUJP (Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace), Neighbors for Peace and Justice, Coalition for World Peace, Global Guardianship Initiative, Code, Pink for Peace, Peace on the Beach, Peace Warriors, LA International A.N.S.W.E.R., Not in Our Name, Global Women's Strike and Southern Cal. Americans for Democratic Action, Americans Against War With Iraq
For more information about Media Challenge! and what the news networks are not telling you go to http://www.projects4peace.org and click on Media.
Feeling empowered? Wanna do more on this issue? GO TO: http://www.mediareform.net/takeaction.php?issue=1
SHOWDOWN AT THE FCC
From Eli Pariser, MoveOn.Org
May 2, 2003
Dear MoveOn member,
Some time ago, you signed up to receive the MoveOn Bulletin. Today marks our re-launch of that service, in partnership with http://www.alternet.org/ AlterNet. As we move toward an active campaign on the Federal Communications Committee rule change, this bulletin provides a great overview of what's at stake and how next month's decision could shape the future of American journalism. I hope you enjoy it.
SHOWDOWN AT THE FCC
Friday, May 2, 2003
Co-Editors: Don Hazen and Lakshmi Chaudry, AlterNet
1. Eli Pariser: <#1>Why Worry About Who Owns the Media?
2. Jeff Chester: <#2>Showdown at the FCC
3. Neil Hickey: <#3>The Gathering Storm Over Media Ownership
4. Bill Moyers: <#4>Barry Diller Takes On Media Deregulation
5. Danny Schechter: <#5>The Media, the War, and Our Right to Know
6. Eric Boehlert: <#6>Clear Channel's Big Stinking Deregulation Mess
7. Paul Schmelzer: <#7>The Death of Local News
8. Caryl Rivers: <#8>Where Have All the Women Gone?
9. <#9>About the Bulletin
WHY WORRY ABOUT WHO OWNS THE MEDIA?
MoveOn Bulletin Op-Ed
by Eli Pariser
It's like something out of a nightmare, but it really happened: At 1:30 on a cold January night, a train containing hundreds of thousands of gallons of toxic ammonia derails in Minot, North Dakota. Town officials try to sound the emergency alert system, but it isn't working. Desperate to warn townspeople about the poisonous white cloud bearing down on them, the officials call their local radio stations. But no one answers any of the phones for an hour and a half. According to the New York Times, three hundred people are hospitalized, some are partially blinded, and pets and livestock are killed.
Where were Minot's DJs on January 18th, 2002? Where was the late night station crew? As it turns out, six of the seven local radio stations had recently been purchased by Clear Channel Communications, a radio giant with over 1,200 stations nationwide. Economies of scale dictated that most of the local staff be cut: Minot stations ran more or less on auto pilot, the programming largely dictated from further up the Clear Channel food chain. No one answered the phone because hardly anyone worked at the stations any more; the songs played in Minot were the same as those played on Clear Channel stations across the Midwest.
Companies like Clear Channel argue that economies of scale allow them to cut costs while continuing to provide quality programming. But they do so at the expense of local coverage. It's not just about emergency warnings: media mergers are decreasing coverage of local political races, local small businesses, and local events. There are only a third as many owners of newspapers and TV stations as there were in the 1970s (about 600 now; over 1,500 then). It's harder and harder for Americans to find out what's going on in their own back yards.
On June 2, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is considering relaxing or getting rid of rules to allow much more media concentration. While the actual rule changes are under wraps, they could allow enormous changes in the American media environment. For example, one company could be allowed to own ABC, CBS, and NBC. Almost certainly, media companies will be allowed to own newspapers and TV stations in the same town. We could be entering a new era of media megaliths.
Do you want one or two big companies acting as gatekeepers and controlling your access to news and entertainment? Most of us don't. And the airwaves explicitly belong to us -- the American people. We allow media companies to use them in exchange for their assurance that they're serving the public interest, and it's the FCC's job to make sure that's so. For the future of American journalism, and for the preservation of a diverse and local media, we have to hold the FCC to its mission. Otherwise, Minot's nightmare may become our national reality.
Interested in taking on the FCC and other media-related concerns?
Join the MoveOn Media Corps, a group of over 29,000 committed
Americans working for a fair and balanced media. You can sign up now
SHOWDOWN AT THE FCC
Jeffrey Chester and Don Hazen, AlterNet
Despite wide protests and the Clear Channel debacle, the FCC is about
to award the nation's biggest media conglomerates a new give-away
that will further concentrate media ownership in fewer hands. The
impact on the American media landscape could be disastrous. Recent TV
coverage of the Iraq war already illustrates that US media companies
aren't interested in providing a serious range of analysis and
debate. This overview describes what's at stake and offers an
introduction to the following articles.
THE GATHERING STORM OVER MEDIA OWNERSHIP
Neil Hickey, Columbia Journalism Review
CJR's editor-at-large explains just what is at stake in this fight over media ownership. He provides an in-depth look at the issues, and major players in a battle that is pitting journalists against their bosses, breaking up old alliances, and gathering momentum as the day of reckoning draws near. He traces the snowballing trend of media consolidation and its implications for the future, revealing just how the drive for profit is eroding diversity, local control, and more importantly giving a few mega-corporations a monopoly over the dissemination of news. http://www.alternet.org/story.html?StoryID=15654
BARRY DILLER TAKES ON MEDIA DEREGULATION
Bill Moyers, Now with Bill Moyers
The founder of Fox Broadcasting and present CEO of USA Networks is an
unlikely but passionate opponent of plans to loosen media ownership
rules. In an interview with Bill Moyers, the media mogul explains how
deregulation creates corporations with "such overwhelming power in
the marketplace that everyone has to do essentially what they say."
Diller argues that government regulation is essential to prevent
media companies from controlling everything we see, read, and hear.
As he puts it, "Who else is gonna do it for us?"
THE MEDIA, THE WAR, AND OUR RIGHT TO KNOW
Danny Schechter, MediaChannel.org
Why did the media do such a poor job of reporting on the Iraq war? The boosterism of news anchors, the suppression of antiwar views, and the sanitized images of war that defined television coverage are not a simple matter of bias or ineptitude, says media analyst Danny Schechter. He draws attention to the connection between the decisions made by journalists and the lobbying efforts of owners who will profit immensely from the upcoming FCC decision in June. http://www.mediachannel.org/views/dissector/moveon.shtml
CLEAR CHANNEL'S BIG STINKING DEREGULATION MESS
Eric Boehlert, Salon
Clear Channel, the radio and concert conglomerate, has been the
greatest beneficiary of the 1996 Telecommunications Act, which
stripped all ownership limits in the radio industry. The rapacious
company, led by Bush supporter Lowry Mays, has grown from 40 stations
to 1,225 since then, and now uses its power to routinely bully
advertisers and record companies, and more recently censor antiwar
artists. However, as Eric Boehlert points out, its "success" may be
the most powerful weapon in the arsenal of media activists. Clear
Channel's stranglehold on the radio industry is the best and clearest
example of the effects of rampant deregulation.
THE DEATH OF LOCAL NEWS
Paul Schmelzer, AlterNet
Meet the Sinclair Broadcast Group, the "Clear Channel of local news." Since 1991, the company has managed to acquire 62 television stations or 24 percent of the national TV audience. The company's modus operandi is the centralized production of homogenized, repackaged faux "local" news. Its success offers an alarming glimpse of the post-deregulation world in which all news may be produced in one giant newsroom and from a single viewpoint -- which in Sinclair's case is wholeheartedly conservative.
WHERE HAVE ALL THE WOMEN GONE?
Caryl Rivers, Women's Enews
Once the war on Iraq took center-stage in the headlines of newspapers
and magazines across the country, women writers became increasingly
rare in the media. In their place are mostly white men who write on a
narrow band of foreign policy issues, mostly recycling their views
over and over again. From the all-male line-ups in the op-ed pages of
the Washington Post and the New York Times to the dwindling female
bylines in the New Yorker and Atlantic Monthly, women's voices have
been caught in a "spiral of silence" that is unprecedented since the
pre-women's movement days.
ABOUT THE MOVEON BULLETIN AND MOVEON.ORG
The MoveOn Bulletin is a free email bulletin providing information, resources, news, and action ideas on important political issues. The full text of the MoveOn Bulletin is online at http://www.moveon.org/moveonbulletin/; you can subscribe to it at that address. The MoveOn Bulletin is a project of MoveOn.org.
MoveOn.org is an issue-oriented, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization
that gives people a voice in shaping the laws that affect their
lives. MoveOn.org engages people in the civic process, using the
Internet to democratically determine a non-partisan agenda, raising
public awareness of pressing issues, and coordinating grassroots
advocacy campaigns to encourage sound public policies. You can help
decide the direction of MoveOn.org by participating in the discussion