Time to StopBigMedia, Say Activists

It's media consolidation deja vu all over again.

The same anti-big media groups, plus some, are marshalling their forces as the FCC prepares to launch its review of media-ownership rules at its meeting June 21.

Groups including Consumers Union, the Newspaper Guild-CWA, AFTRA, the Center for Creative Voices in Media, National Council of Churches, Media Access Project, Rainbow PUSH, and Free Press are unveiling a new Web site, WWW.StopBigMedia.com.

They fear that the new rules will allow media companies "to swallow up more local television channels, radio stations and newspapers."

The FCC in 2003 tried to loosen regs on the number of stations that can be owned in a market and the cross-ownership or radio and TV stations, but those rules were remanded by a federal appeals court after a challenge from some of the same groups ready to do battle with new rules if they are too deregulatory.

The court found that the FCC had not sufficiently justified its deregulation and asked it, now going on two years ago, to provide a better rationale.

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin tried to launch the rule review last summer but pulled it from the agenda for a September meeting after failing to come to terms with the two Democrats on various issues, including how much to spend on a new study of the media marketplace and the number of local hearings to be held.

The new rule review will incorporate several proceedings, including the rule remand and the FCC's quadrennial review of all its rules per congressional directive.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.