The Federal Communications Commission held a public hearing on Wednesday to discuss the impact of consolidation on broadcast localism.
With protesters dressed in Halloween costumes outside, the five members of the commission listened to testimony from a panel of critics who lambasted any plans to ease media ownership rules.
“If you further deregulate media in this country, networks, broadcast stations and newspapers will continue to consolidate, resulting in fewer voices heard by citizens,” warned Bob Edwards of American Federation of Television & Radio Artists. “If commercial media are given the unfettered right to abandon their obligation to serve the public interest, they will do just that. Please do not let this happen.”
The two Democratic commissioners, Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein, echoed the statements of those on the panel.
“Consolidation denigrates diversity, denies minorities and women, and diminishes our already-distorted democratic dialogue,” Copps said. “It seems to get worse with almost each passing week. I, for one, can wait no longer. If we truly believe in localism, the time has come to do something about it.”
FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, a Republican, has suggested Dec. 18 as a deadline for on the agency to decide whether to ease limits on how many media outlets a company may own in one market.