The Obama administration’s Federal Communications Commission is on the verge of handing media mogul Rupert Murdoch a very nice Christmas present. Murdoch, who already owns Wall Street Journal, the New York Post, Fox News Channel, Fox movie studios, 27 local TV stations and more, now wants to purchase the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune, that are currently owned by the bankrupt Tribune Company, and a controlling stake in the Yes Network. Julius Genachowski, the F.C.C. chairman, is about to ease the rules to let him.
We were down this road before during the Bush administration and it was roundly rejected, not only by the public, but by Congress and the courts:
Genachowski’s proposal is essentially indistinguishable from the failed Bush administration policies that millions rallied against in 2003 and 2007. Ninety-nine percent of the public comments received by the FCC opposed lifting these rules when the Republicans tried to do it.
Genachowski’s proposal is nearly identical to the one the Senate voted to overturn with a bipartisan “resolution of disapproval” back in 2008. Among the senators who co-sponsored that rebuke to runaway media concentration were Joe Biden and Barack Obama.
At the time, Obama blasted the FCC for having “failed to further the goals of diversity in the media and promote localism,” saying the agency was in “no position to justify allowing for increased consolidation.” Nothing has changed — except which party controls the White House.
The federal courts have repeatedly — and as recently as 2011 — struck down these same rules, noting the FCC’s failure to “consider the effect of its rules on minority and female ownership.” The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the FCC to study the impact of any rule changes before changing the rules. The FCC has done nothing of the kind.
Yet, the Obama FCC now wants to hand control of the news in a media outlet to one man.
Bill Moyers addressed this issue with Sen. Bernie Sanders on why big media shouldn’t get bigger.
In 1983, 50 corporations controlled a majority of American media. Now that number is six. And Big Media may get even bigger, thanks to the FCC’s consideration of ending a rule preventing companies from owning a newspaper and radio and TV stations in the same big city. Such a move – which they’ve tried in 2003 and 2007 as well -would give these massive media companies free rein to devour more of the competition, control the public message, and also limit diversity across the media landscape. On this week’s Moyers & Company (check local listings), Senator Bernie Sanders, one of several Senators who have written FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski asking him to suspend the plan, joins Bill to discuss why Big Media is a threat to democracy and what citizens can do to fight back.
Sanders also expresses his dismay that such a move would come from an Obama appointee. “Why the Obama Administration is doing something that the Bush Administration failed to do is beyond my understanding,” Sanders tells Bill. “And we’re gonna do everything we can to prevent it from happening.”
FCC May Give Murdoch a Very Merry Christmas
by Bill Moyers and Michael Winship
Until now, this hasn’t been the best year for media mogul Rupert Murdoch. For one, none of the Republicans who’d been on the payroll of his Fox News Channel – not Newt Gingrich or Rick Santorum or Mike Huckabee or Sarah Palin – became this year’s GOP nominee for president. [..]
But Murdoch’s luck may be changing. Despite Fox News’ moonlighting as the propaganda ministry of the Republican Party, President Obama’s team may be making it possible for Sir Rupert to increase his power, perversely rewarding the man who did his best to make sure Barack Obama didn’t have a second term. The Federal Communications Commission could be preparing him one big Christmas present, the kind of gift that keeps on giving – unless we all get together and do something about it. [..]
In prior years, the FCC has granted waivers to the rules, but this latest move on their part would be more permanent, allowing a monolithic corporation like News Corp or Disney, Comcast, Viacom, CBS or Time Warner – in any of the top twenty markets – to own newspapers, two TV stations, eight radio stations and even the local Internet provider. [..]
Make your voices heard – write or call Genachowski and the other commissioners – you can find their names, e-mail addresses and phone numbers at the website fcc.gov, or on the “Take Action” page at our website, BillMoyers.com. Write your senators and representatives, too, tell them the FCC must delay this decision and give the public a chance to have its opposition known. We’ve done it before.
Just ask the FCC this basic question: What part of “no” don’t you understand?