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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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December 17, 2007 11:54 AM

FCC cross-ownership vote

Posted by Ryan Blethen

Tomorrow is a critical day for democracy. The Federal Communications Commission will vote on a plan that could eviscerate America's independent press. Before the five commissioners is a proposal from Chairman Kevin Martin that would eliminate the cross-ownership ban in the nation's top 20 media markets. This means a company could own a newspaper, broadcast outlet, and an Internet Service Provider in the same market. This is bad policy, made worse by a loophole that allows for low bar cross-ownership waivers outside the top 20 markets.

The press and public's best hope is that either Republican commissioners Robert McDowell or Deborah Tate join the two Democrats as "no" votes. The Seattle Times urged Tate and McDowell in an editorial Sunday that can be found here.

My guess is that Tate and McDowell will vote with Martin. Hopefully it does not even get to that point. Martin has received a ton of pressure from the public and Congress to delay the vote. He has rebuffed all pleas. I am not optimistic he will change his mind by tomorrow morning.

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