Earlier this week, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin pushed ahead with his plans to change the FCC’s media consolidation rules—over objection of the masses at public hearings like the recent one in Seattle.
Martin’s move comes on the heels of Congressional hearings where lawmakers, both Democratic and Republican, took Martin to the woodshed over the plan itself, over his rush to move forward with it, over a tin ear that cannot hear the voice of the people, for his process seemingly designed to suppress public opinion (like announcing the Seattle hearings five days in advance), and because he published an op-ed piece written (and probably submitted) before the Seattle hearing. “My folks in Seattle believe that they were treated like a bunch of chumps“, scolded Rep. Jay Inslee.
The objections of the people and Congress were for naught:
The Federal Communications Commission voted on Tuesday to loosen media ownership restrictions in the 20 biggest U.S. cities, despite objections from consumer groups and a threat by some U.S. senators to revoke the action.
The FCC voted 3-2, along party lines, to ease the 32-year-old ban on ownership of a newspaper and broadcast outlet in a single market.
Perhaps Martin felt safe in giving us—the people—the finger, but when you give Congress the finger you might just find a foot planted in your crotch. Readers don’t generally expect many positive references to Rep. Dave Reichert here at HA but, considering this issue resulted in Goldy writing a post titled I heart Frank Blethen, that I am about to cite Reichert’s web site shows you just how powerful and bipartisan this issue really is.
That’s right…Reichert is one of the good guys in this battle. As a gesture of gratitude (or maybe something more like a Pavlovian reward) I’ll quote this fabulous press release from Reichert:
Congressman Dave Reichert (WA-08) joined Congressman Jay Inslee (D-WA) today in introducing the Media Ownership Act, legislation that will counter the damaging rule handed down by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to allow consolidation of media companies. The legislation would prevent the FCC’s hurried rule from becoming law by requiring more time for public comment and changing the timeframe for proposed revisions to be published. It would also go into effect retroactively, back to October 1, 2007.
“This legislation changes technical provisions but is simple in its message and effects,” said Reichert. “We want local media to remain local, diverse and free. I’m pleased to join with Jay Inslee to counter the damage that this ruling could bring. I’m not only disappointed in their ruling today, but also the process in which it came about. Last month when the FCC held one of the rushed public hearings in Seattle, I spoke out, calling for retention of the current rules. Relaxing restrictions does not serve our citizens, and would lead to the detriment of localism and diversity that we still enjoy. We’re taking swift action to hopefully prevent these changes from affecting our communities and the families at home. I respect the free market and want a marketplace that allows corporations to operate as freely as possible. However, I believe it is a role of government to stand between corporations and consumers when the public interest is at stake. I will continue to do what I can to maintain a diverse, free and unbiased source of news for my constituents and across this nation.”
Specifically, the legislation would:
- Require the FCC to publish any proposed revisions to its media ownership rules at least 90 days prior to a vote.
- Require at least 60 days for public comment and the FCC must respond to these comments within 30 days.
- Require the FCC to complete a separate proceeding to evaluate the effects of consolidation on broadcast localism before any vote.
- Require the establishment of an independent panel on female and minority ownership. The panel would provide data and offer recommendations to the FCC on how to increase female and minority ownership. The FCC must receive and act on these recommendations prior to voting on any proposed ownership rules.
- The bill applies to any attempt to alter rules made by the FCC after October 1, 2007.
Sen. Maria Cantwell is already cosponsoring similar legislation in the Senate.
Martin is a punk, and an arrogant punk at that. Kudos to Rep. Reichert, Rep. Inslee and Sen. Cantwell for listening to the people and giving Martin a good swift kick in the nuts.