FCC Eliminates Media Consolidation Rules, Harming Competition and Viewpoint Diversity

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Today, the Federal Communications Commission voted to approve an Order on Reconsideration and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on media consolidation. This order eliminated rules that limit any one entity from owning too many newspaper, radio, and television entities within a local market. These rules were essential in helping to protect viewpoint diversity, locally created content, and competition.

The following can be attributed to John Bergmayer, Senior Counsel at Public Knowledge:

“The Commission claims that its media ownership rules need to be modernized. Instead, it has not proposed to modernize them, but to abandon them.

“These rules serve a purpose: They ensure that viewers, readers, and listeners have access to diverse voices and points of few. They ensure that local news and information is easily available. They protect competition in local markets, ensuring that local media and advertising aren't controlled by just one or two firms.

“Rolling back these rules is corporate welfare at its worst. Broadcasters receive billions of dollars of valuable spectrum, for free. In exchange, they are expected to meet community needs. The FCC has given these broadcasters the tools they need to pad their bottom line while walking away from their responsibilities. Given the rise of other forms of national media, if broadcasters aren’t meeting the specific needs of their communities, what purpose do they even serve?

“Modernizing, instead of eliminating these rules would focus on promoting the same unchanging values that Congress has directed the Commission to promote, given the rise of new media, new technology, and a changing marketplace. The public interest still requires a commitment to localism, diversity, and competition, even if the current Commission leadership does not recognize this.

“If this proposal passes, citizens can expect an ever-more bland and homogenous media landscape controlled by out-of-town interests with no connection to their communities. They can expect large chains of broadcasters and newspapers controlled by billionaires to push their political agenda nationwide. They can even expect to pay more, as cable bills go up and  businesses have to pay more for local advertising. People should let the FCC and their representatives in Congress know what they think about this misguided proposal.”

View our latest blog post, “Fewer Voices In Our Communities: The FCC Supports More Media Ownership Consolidation,” for more information.

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