Technology with attitude

FCC's Slippery Slope Ownership Rule Slapped Down

4

I’ve always been of the belief that the more consolidated the media becomes, the less diverse the news gets. Recently the FCC ruled that media organizations could own a TV station and a newspaper in the same town in the top 20 media markets, thereby controlling a significant portion of the news.

Troubling? I think so, and so did the Senate.

From AP:

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate Thursday night voted to nullify a Federal Communications Commission rule that allows media companies to own a newspaper and a television station in the same market.

The unusual “resolution of disapproval,” sponsored by Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., and 26 other senators, was approved by a voice vote. The measures sponsors include both Democratic candidates for president, Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York and Barack Obama of Illinois. […]

The FCC decision allows one company to own a newspaper and a broadcast station in the nation’s 20 largest metropolitan areas. The TV station may not be among the top four in the market, and post-transaction, at least eight independent media voices must remain. The rule replaced an outright ban on cross-ownership.

The argument for the FCC’s actions?

Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez said he was “disappointed with the Senate’s action” and would recommend to the president that he veto the bill.

“The FCC’s approach modernizes a 30-year-old rule in a way that improves the financial viability of the newspaper industry, which faces an increasingly competitive media market,” he said.

Listen folks, the financial viability of the newspaper industry has less to do with media consolidation and much more to do with the fact that their “black and white and read all over” coverage is usually a day after the fact and younger generations just don’t care to pick up a paper in the morning if they can get personalized news delivered to their inbox. And already the smart papers are transitioning to more fluid, online operations that can pump out hyper-local news.

In other words, we should be striving for better media organizations, not bigger media organizations, and I’m glad to see the Senate finally doing something about this slippery slope.