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Daily Democracy

Ryan Blethen discusses the press, media and democracy. Daily Democracy is part of the Democracy Papers, a series of articles, essays and editorial opinion examining threats to our freedoms of speech and the press.

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October 21, 2007 8:32 PM

Welcome to Daily Democracy!

Posted by Ryan Blethen

Welcome to Daily Democracy, an extension of the Democracy Papers, which is an ongoing project that examines the press and democracy. This space will be used to keep the discussion fresh, and vigorous. I will be writing about the media reform movement, the press, and its place in a democracy. I will also direct readers to related stories, materials, and sources.

Enough with the introductions. There is too much happening to waste time with the pleasantries. The big news on media reform came out of Washington, D.C. last week. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin Martin said he wants the commission to vote on media ownership rules by Dec. 18. Martin is also calling for public hearings on the matter in Washington, D.C. on Oct. 31, and here in Seattle on Nov. 2.

Martin's timing is curious. He seemed content to move the FCC at a pedestrian pace on media ownership until now. Since Martin's predecessor, Michael Powell, the FCC has had a soft spot for the big media companies. Tribune, one of those big media companies, has for some reason been allowed to operate newspapers, and television stations in a number of cities with temporary waivers. Tribune is going through a sale to Chicago developer Sam Zell. Zell and Tribune want to close the deal by year end. Zell wants to keep Tribunes televisions stations. Tribune wants to be able to sell Zell its newspapers and stations in one nice neat package. A Dec. 18 vote would be convenient for Zell and Tribune.

The New York Times had a good story about Martin's plans. It gives some good history about an earlier effort to weaken cross-ownership rules. There are also some good quotes from FCC commissioner Michael Copps, and Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D.

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