Gearing Up for the Next (Digital) Media Ownership Mega-Battle 2006

Time to get up to speed and up to date . . . here's some words from Free Press:

"The Federal Communications Commission announced on Jan. 7 that the U.S. Solicitor General will not appeal the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals decision in Prometheus Radio Project vs. Federal Communications Commission to the Supreme Court.

That decision rejected the FCC rules issued in June 2003 that would have significantly loosened media ownership caps (details). Barring the unlikely event that the Supreme Court takes up the case anyway, the FCC now must go back to the drawing board and restart the entire rulemaking process.

We haven't won yet. The industry lobbyists and their allies on the commission will try to sneak the same policies through the back door. The only thing that will stop them is if the millions of Americans who opposed media consolidation in 2003 remain vigilant."

You can learn more about the Media Ownership debate at the Benton Foundation.

Here's some news on what FCC Chairman Martin is saying on the debate getting started again in 2006:

(From TV Week, March 17, 2006)

"Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin Martin said Friday that he plans to launch proceedings 'as soon as we can' to consider revising the agency’s media ownership rules.

In addition, during a briefing for reporters, Mr. Martin said he continues to believe that an agency regulation barring daily newspapers from buying radio or TV stations in their markets is in particular need of review.

'We’ll do our best to update that rule and the other media ownership rules,' he said.

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Why We Must Begin Connecting The Future of Media to The Internet

The uncomfortable coziness between Big Media, The FCC, and Congress, as we've seen in the past, now calls for even greater concern. We're already beginning to see increasing partnerships (see below) between those who control the "pipes" (Verizon, AT&T, Comcast, etc.) and those who control the content (ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, etc.). There's more reason than ever to get involved in the debate over who will gain exclusive rights to providing content if a future Network can discriminate, by law, against open access to content, applications, and services–ultimately the information we're allowed to receive and produce in order to communicate with one another "online" (where most media is heading) in the 21st Century.

Add a dash of local control erosion, and a pinch of analog to digital TV and radio to the mix, and you've got yourself a serious stew of exclusivity and power in the hands of a few Information Giants allowed to lock down & reduce access to digital information, entertainment, and services by law.

The future is digital. Media Ownership, Local Control, and The Internet matter more than ever.

"Behind the story of the AT&T-BellSouth merger is a tale about the future of all media" – Tim Karr, AT&T Wants to Reach Out and Control You

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(update March 21, 2006) The Boston Globe reports today that Verizon and CBS "reached a deal for Verizon to carry CBS programming on its new TV service" – Business Notebook, March 21, 2006

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