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Story At 11

Unions and anti-media consolidation activists have been flooding the Webwaves with e-mails outlining their plans for the FCC's Oct. 3 media consolidation hearing in L.A., an audiocast of which will be streamed and perhaps even a Webcast.

That demonstrates what a powerful tool for the democratic (small "d") dissemination of information the Internet has become.

The hearing is on deregulatory media ownership rules, which have to be re-written because a court concluded the FCC had not sufficiently justified them, including taking issue with the commission's argument that the Internet was a new voice that needed to be counted when looking at competition in a market.

The Internet has grown a lot since 2003, when the rules were remanded, so I would look for the Republican majority to make the point that the Internet must be counted.

But I am off my point, or more to the point, have not gotten there yet.

My point is that while I have gotten inundated with the plans of people taking aim at the media, I have heard little about who from that side will be showing up to make the case for "economies of scale" and "the resources to tackle the big jobs," and "newspapers and magazines aren't similarly forced to fit the government's idea of how many people a media outlet can reach."

I have one piece of advice for broadcasters in the L.A. market: Send a news crew and do a minute on the evening or late news.

If the argument is, and it is a big argument from the consumer groups and "throw broadcasters in Boston harbor set," that the media deliberately downplay the media ownership story, then it would be politically advisable to blunt that criticism by showing up and asking some questions.

For instance, 'Do the performers unions really want to invite the government to step in? Do the issues of jobs and financial interest and syndication really trump the First Amendment?" OK, most of the time they seem to, I'll admit, but it is a good answer to get on the record.

I realize that when I occasionally leave my ivory tower and stroll among the populace that nobody is going to fall on their sword for indecency and profanity if they can bank some goodwill with government toward issues that hit the pocketbook more directly. That needs to be pointed out occasionally.

But I digress.

Whichever side you fall on in the media ownership deregulation debate, it is worth engaging in, and covering as a news story, particularly if by doing so you undercut one of the arguments leveled against you in the hearing you are covering.

By John Eggerton