Verizon Bill Strategy Blog

March 8, 2007

John Donovan (CCTV) created People First, a “weblog/strategy piece”, as a way for people to work together to defeat the Verizon bill in the Massachusetts State House. The site provides a comprehensive approach towards achieving this goal.

“Verizon has introduced a bill into the Massachusetts State Legislature which is a disaster in more ways than one could even count, and they are putting a full-court lobbying and media press on to pass it, with extraordinary local and national dollars behind it. We need to kill this bill, but it’s going to take a seriously organized effort to win.

If you’re concerned about the future of community access to media and free speech, check out the blog and get involved.


“Does Bigger Media Equal Better Media?”

October 23, 2006

(via Free Press)

“October 23, 2006
PRESS ADVISORY
Contact
Rik Panganiban, SSRC, 212 377-2700, ext. 644 or panganiban@ssrc.org
Gloria Tristani. 202 454-5655 or tristani@benton.org

***Press conference TODAY, 1 p.m. EDT***

Does Bigger Media Equal Better Media?
Four New Studies Cast a Critical Eye on Media Consolidation

Today at 1 p.m. EDT, the Benton Foundation and the Social Science Research Council will host a telephone press conference to announce the release of four independent academic studies on the impact of media consolidation in the United States.

WHAT: Telephone press conference to unveil four important studies on media ownership

WHEN: TODAY, 1 p.m. EDT

WHO:
Gloria Tristani, President, Benton Foundation and Former FCC Commissioner
Joe Karaganis, Program Director, Social Science Research Council
Dr. Carolyn Byerly, Howard University
Dr. Phil Napoli, Fordham University
Peter DiCola, University of Michigan

WHERE: To join, call 888-694-4676 — conference code #8013008

The studies are available at <http://www.benton.org/&gt; and <http://www.ssrc.org/programs/media&gt;

The studies focus on two questions that are central to upcoming FCC deliberations about the regulation of media ownership:

·  How the concentration of media ownership affects media content, from local news reporting to radio music programming.

·  How minority groups have fared in an increasingly deregulated media environment, both as owners of media outlets and as historically-underserved audiences for news and other content.

The studies are intended to inform the FCC’s re-examination of media ownership restrictions and have been filed with the FCC during the initial public comment period ending Monday, October 23.

Benton president and former FCC commissioner Gloria Tristani said: “These studies make clear that there is no support for the contention that media consolidation correlates with better, more local or more diverse media content. To the contrary, the studies strongly suggest that ownership restrictions should be tightened, not relaxed.”

The four studies examine key relationships between ownership, programming, and community impact, with a particular focus on:

The Radio Industry. Peter DiCola, of the University of Michigan and the Future of Music Coalition, examines how the concentration of radio station ownership affects the diversity of music programming.

Minority and Women-owned Media. Carolyn Byerly of Howard University takes a critical look at FCC data on minority and women-owned media.

Minority News Consumption. Carolyn Byerly, Jamila A. Cupid and Kehbuma Langmia examine minority perspectives on the media coverage of minority communities, drawing on 196 interviews with African-Americans, Africans, Latinos and Asians in the DC and Maryland area.

TV/Newspaper Cross-ownership & Public Affairs. Michael Yan of the University of Michigan analyzes the relationship between newspaper and television cross-ownership and the provision of local news and public affairs programming.

The telephone press conference will take place today at 1PM EST. The authors of the studies will briefly present their findings and be available for questions.

To participate, please call 888-694-4676 and provide the operator with the reference code for the event: 8013008.

The studies are available online at <http://www.ssrc.org/programs/media&gt; and <http://www.benton.org/&gt; . To arrange interviews with individual researchers after the press conference, please contact Rik Panganiban at 212-377-2700 x 644 or email panganiban@ssrc.org

###

About the Benton Foundation: A private foundation since 1981, the Benton Foundation (<http://www.benton.org&gt;) works to advance a public interest vision and policy alternatives for the digital age and to demonstrate the value of communications for solving social problems. The foundation is based in Washington, DC.

About the Social Science Research Council: The SSRC (<http://www.ssrc.org&gt;) is an independent, non-profit, non-partisan organization founded in 1923 to bring research to bear on public problems. It works on a wide range of issues, from media policy, to the social impact of HIV/AIDS, to changes in systems of higher education. The SSRC is based in New York City”


Media Reform Groups Speak Out Against FCC “Scandal”

September 19, 2006

Press Release from Free Press and the Future of Music Coalition:

Second Secret Study Surfaces at FCC

Whistleblower leaks radio ownership report buried under Powell administration

” A Federal Communications Commission study on the negative impacts of radio consolidation came to light Monday after being buried at the agency for at least two years. This was the second secret FCC study on media ownership to surface in as many weeks.

‘This is a scandal,’ said Josh Silver, executive director of Free Press. ‘Apparently, FCC officials are willing to deep-six any research that contradicts industry’s pro-consolidation claims. They can’t be trusted. There needs to be an independent investigation and a full review of all research conducted under the leadership of Michael Powell and Kevin Martin.’

The study, a ‘Review of the Radio Industry’ conducted by the FCC Media Bureau, found that the Telecommunications Act of 1996 had led to a drastic decline in the number of radio station owners — even as the actual number of commercial stations in the United States had increased.

A copy of the study is available at http://www.stopbigmedia.com/files/radio_ownership.pdf

The press release is here.


Former FCC Chair Accused of Destroying Media Ownership Study

September 16, 2006

Amazing. In a gift to media reform groups, the AP reports this week that former FCC Chairman Michael Powell ordered a study on how media ownership affects local news coverage to be destroyed, in an attempt to further loosen rules on media consolidation.

AP reported in a separate article yesterday that Powell denies these accusations:

“The draft report, which surfaced earlier this week, was at odds with agency policy under Powell regarding media ownership issues. A former FCC lawyer told the AP that senior managers at the agency ordered the report be destroyed.” – Associated Press, “Powell denies seeing media ownership study”

Read the article here.

Free Press and other media reform groups are calling on current FCC Chairmain Martin to conduct an investigation into the alleged “cover-up”.  Read the press release from Free Press here.


The New Standard on Battle over Media Ownership

July 21, 2006

The New Standard, “a unique online newspaper founded on the belief that the dominant model and methods of profit-focused news journalism have failed the public interest,” is a non-profit news organization “committed to bold, hard-hitting daily news coverage, providing a vetted forum for the voices and issues often ignored in the establishment news arena.” – About This Site

The New Standard’s front page online today features a story by Catherine Komp reporting on the battle heating up between public interest media advocates and the Federal Communications Commission over the FCC’s proposed rulemaking on Media Ownership policy.

“The fight to protect locally owned and diverse media outlets is gearing up again after the Federal Communications Commission announced it would be opening up a public comment period on newly proposed media-ownership rules.

But opponents of media consolidation, including two FCC commissioners, are concerned that the proceedings will be inadequate and public input will be ignored, as was the case during the last review of ownership rules in 2003.

FCC Commissioner Michael Copps, who has expressed strong opposition to the rulemaking process, said this would be the FCC’s most important public-policy decision of the year.

‘This debate will have far-reaching implications for the credibility of information Americans get from the media – for the vitality of the civic dialogue that determines the direction of our democracy – and for whether TV and radio offer entertainment that is creative, uplifting and local, or degrading, banal and homogenized,’ wrote Copps in his partially dissenting response to the rule-making proceedings.

So far, the five-member, presidentially appointed commission has released few details on its rulemaking process. It simply listed the rules it will potentially be seeking to change, including local television and radio ownership limits, the ban on cross-ownership of newspaper and broadcast outlets, the limit on cross-ownership of radio and television stations, and the dual network ban, which prohibits ownership of more than one of the big four television networks.

The FCC has not yet opened the 120-day public-comment period. FCC spokesperson Rebecca Fisher said they had ‘no timeline’ on when that would happen.

Another dissenting Commissioner, Jonathan Adelstein, warned that the structure of the upcoming process fails to solicit public comment on specific proposals before they are finalized, fails to require completion of public hearings before the rules are changed, and fails to seek public comment on how all of the media-ownership rules work together.

‘This Notice is thin gruel to those hoping for a meaty discussion of media-ownership issues,’ Adestein said in written comments about the process.

The debate over those rules has been contentious, as big corporations look to amass more media outlets in concentrated markets, and communities decry of the loss of locally owned radio stations. After broadcast-ownership limits were relaxed in 1996, Clear Channel went from owning a few dozen stations to more than 1,200 just four years later . By 2004, according to Columbia University’s annual State of the News Media report, the top ten largest companies owned 30 percent of all television stations reaching 85 percent of TV households.

In 2003, the FCC proposed to further loosen media-ownership rules, permitting a single corporation to own up to three televisions stations, eight radio stations and a daily newspaper – even the only daily newspaper – in a single market.

More than 2 million people submitted comments and testified at hearings in opposition to the proposals. It was the largest public response in the FCC’s history. Despite this outpouring of public rejection of changes to already-weak existing media diversity protections, the Republican majority on the FCC – then headed by Michael Powell – voted in favor of the sweeping overhaul.

Media-reform groups like Free Press are concerned that the FCC majority will try to push through the same controversial ownership rules proposed three years ago, despite a court ruling that the changes were not ‘sufficiently justified.’ That case – brought by the grassroots media organization Prometheus Radio Project – stopped those rules from going into effect. In its June 2004 ruling, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals required the FCC to prove that the rule changes were in the public interest.

The new rulemaking process comes in response to that ruling and to a quadrennial review of all ownership rules, as mandated by Congress . In its most recent announcement, the FCC has promised to conduct studies on the impact of consolidation on local media content. The commission’s list of study areas is broad, including a look at how people consume news, minority participation in media, and independent programming. However, according to FCC spokesperson Fisher, none of these studies has yet been launched.

Pete Tridish, founder of Prometheus Radio Project, says these studies are key and would like to see the FCC take a serious look at how cross-ownership influences news and information. By looking at issues of media ownership through an economic lens, as Tridish said the commission has a record of, it is missing important factors about the role of media in a functioning democracy.”

Continue reading the article at The New Standard and support quality non-profit journalism.


Free Press & Media Access Project on Cable Giant Merger

July 13, 2006

Free Press and Media Access Project released the following statement today on the approved Comcast and Time Warner merger by the Federal Communications Commission:

FCC Approves Merger of Cable Giants

Agency imposes some conditions on merger but fails to protect Net Neutrality

“WASHINGTON — The Federal Communications Commission today approved the takeover of Adelphia by the nation’s two largest cable companies, Comcast and Time Warner. Conditions placed on the merger would contend with problems related to regional sports networks and leased access for local programming — but they do not include any measures to protect Network Neutrality.

‘We got some of what we asked for, which is a lot more than anyone thought when this all started,’ said Andrew Jay Schwartzman, president and CEO of Media Access Project. ‘But nothing will fix the regional monopolies created by this deal. And without Net Neutrality, the future of the democratic and open Internet remains in doubt.’

The $17.6 billion deal would give Time Warner and Comcast millions of new subscribers. The merger will also allow the companies to swap systems to strengthen their regional domination of cable markets. Time Warner will now control the market in places such as Los Angeles, Dallas and Cleveland. Comcast will take over cable service in Miami, Northern Virginia, Boston, Minneapolis and Pittsburgh.

‘The result of this merger will be fewer choices and higher prices for consumers,’ said Ben Scott, policy director of Free Press, whose members sent more than 26,000 comments on the merger to the FCC. ‘Just two companies — Comcast and Time Warner — will now control well over half of all subscribers to cable service in the country. These two giant regional gatekeepers will wield immense, unchecked power over what we watch on TV and where we can go online. The failure to include even the limited Net Neutrality conditions imposed by the FCC on recent telephone mergers is a major step backward.'” – Free Press


Action Coalition for Media Education Joins Stop Big Media Coalition

June 28, 2006

ACMEBoston parent org, Action Coalition for Media Education is one of the Charter Members of the new Stop Big Media Coalition.

The Coalition writes,

“The StopBigMedia.com Coalition believes that a free and vibrant media full of diverse, local and competing voices is the lifeblood of America’s democracy.

Massive consolidation of media ownership has dangerously reduced the number of voices in our nation’s media. Today, the vast majority of popular news, entertainment and information is controlled by a handful of giant media conglomerates. These corporations seek to minimize competition and maximize profits rather than inform, enlighten, and promote the public interest.

The FCC and Congress must ensure that our media system is, in the words of the Supreme Court, ‘an uninhibited marketplace of ideas in which truth will prevail.’

The StopBigMedia.com Coalition is working to see that the FCC and Congress protect the American public from the further consolidation of US media ownership.

Click here, to join the coalition.”

Check out the blog and act now.