Advertising

The Seattle Times Company

NWjobs | NWautos | NWhomes | NWsource | Free Classifieds | seattletimes.com

Editorials / Opinion


Our network sites seattletimes.com | Advanced

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.

E-mail| RSS feeds Subscribe | Blog Home

June 26, 2008 12:52 PM

Say no to immunity

Posted by Ryan Blethen

The U.S. Senate has wrapped up its long debate about a surveillance program used to spy on Americans. This means the Senate will soon, possibly today, vote on the bill, which the House passed last week.

Continue reading this post ...


Comments | Category: Free Speech , Media consolidation |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

June 21, 2008 8:14 AM

Having it both ways

Posted by Ryan Blethen

Given the grave threats that we face, our national security agencies must have the capability to gather intelligence and track down terrorists before they strike, while respecting the rule of law and the privacy and civil liberties of the American people. There is also little doubt that the Bush Administration, with the cooperation of major telecommunications companies, has abused that authority and undermined the Constitution by intercepting the communications of innocent Americans without their knowledge or the required court orders.

This is how Sen. Barack Obama's statement on his support of the amnesty for telecos bill begins. Wired's Threat Level again has the story.

Continue reading this post ...


Comments | Category: Broadband , Media consolidation |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

June 17, 2008 9:40 AM

Are profits killing news?

Posted by Ryan Blethen

BELGRADE, Serbia - That question was addressed by a panel of media executives from Europe and Turkey. The panelists - Vuslat Dogan Sabanci, CEO of Hurriyet; David Montgomery, CEO, Mecom Group; and Michael Ringer, Chairman of the Board of Ringler AG - sounded upbeat about their companies and the future of news in Europe and Turkey.

I am an optimist, but had trouble accepting some of what they were shoveling. Of course American newspapers were bashed. Ringer the most forceful when he said that Americas regional newspapers are terrible. A very broad and easy statement for somebody to make, especially somebody whose newspaper company dominates Switzerland. He went on to say that similar European newspapers are much better when compared to American newspapers. Sure there are some bad American newspapers, just like there are plenty of bad European newspapers. It would have been helpful if he used some examples of why American newspapers are not good. He did not. Instead the statement was left to dangle as the conversation moved on.

Continue reading this post ...


Comments | Category: Media consolidation , The press |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

June 11, 2008 2:38 PM

Panel reflections

Posted by Ryan Blethen

The panel I was part of at the National Conference for Media Reform went well. John Nichols did a great job moderating a solid panel that represented a good cross section of the newspaper business. The turn out was decent. I took this picture of the crowd, which grew as the session wore on.

I particularly enjoyed listening to the two panelists sitting on either side of me, Nick Coleman and Joel Kramer. Coleman is a columnist for the Minneapolis Star Tribune and Kramer heads up MinnPost.com and is a former publisher and editor of the Star Tribune.


Continue reading this post ...


Comments | Category: Media consolidation , The press |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

June 7, 2008 1:56 PM

Newspapers: Not dead yet?

Posted by Ryan Blethen

MINNEAPOLIS - That is title of a panel I am speaking on today at the National Conference for Media Reform. Any casual reader of this blog or my column can guess as to how I would answer that question. I addressed it in my last column.

Continue reading this post ...


Comments | Category: Media consolidation , The press |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

June 7, 2008 10:43 AM

Media buster

Posted by Ryan Blethen

MINNEAPOLIS - In this age of rapidly advancing technology it is easy to forget the history of media and comparable eras of consolidation in other industries. Some historical perspective was brought to the media reform debate by Tim Wu at a panel this morning.

Continue reading this post ...


Comments | Category: Media consolidation |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

June 7, 2008 6:06 AM

Bill Moyers speech

Posted by Ryan Blethen

MINNEAPOLIS - Bill Moyers is giving the keynote speech at the National Conference for Media Reform. His speech can be seen live at the Free Press Web site.

Comments | Category: Free Speech , Media consolidation , The press |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

June 6, 2008 12:56 PM

Future of the Internet Part Two

Posted by Ryan Blethen

MINNEAPOLIS - A question was asked about how cell phones fit in to the battle over and open Internet during the Q&A period of the Future of the Internet panel. Tim Wu said that because cell phones have grown differently than the Internet the battle will be uphill.

"The culture of the cell phones is different than the culture of the Internet."

Continue reading this post ...


Comments | Category: Broadband , Media consolidation , Net neutrality |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

June 6, 2008 12:11 PM

Future of the Internet

Posted by Ryan Blethen

MINNEAPOLIS - That is the beginning of the title of the panel I am now sitting in. The full name is, "Future of the Internet: Open, Neutral, Mobile and Ubiquitous." The panel opened with some words by moderator Timothy Karr of Free Press. The first panelist was Tim Wu, who is not chairman the Free Press board and a law professor at Columbia University.

Continue reading this post ...


Comments | Category: Broadband , Media consolidation , Net neutrality |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

June 6, 2008 9:15 AM

NCMR opening

Posted by Ryan Blethen

MINNEAPOLIS - Josh Silver, executive director of Free Press, got the National Conference for Media Reform off to a fiery start. You can take my word for it or watch him and other speakers on the Free Press Web site where they are being streamed.

Continue reading this post ...


Comments | Category: Media consolidation , Net neutrality , The press |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

June 4, 2008 7:00 PM

Blogging from the Media Reform Conference

Posted by Ryan Blethen

I will be blogging Thursday through Saturday at the National Conference for Media Reform in Minneapolis. There are a lot of big and interesting names on the speakers list including Bill Moyers, and Federal Communications Commission members Jonathan Adelstein and Michael Copps.

Stay tuned for more from Minneapolis. For more information about the conference go to the Free Press Web site.

Comments | Category: Broadband , Free Speech , Media consolidation , Net neutrality , The press |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

May 28, 2008 4:32 PM

Consolidation, unasked questions, TV news & the First Amendment

Posted by Ryan Blethen

"Media consolidation was done with so much debt it has allowed bankers and Wall Street into the tent, resulting in too much of the profits being required to pay off debt. Public ownership of media has not been good for media quality or for the ability of media owners to manage for the future."

Those are not the words of some raving media reformer that might pop up on this blog from time to time. That is a quote from David Rubin, the outgoing dean of Syracuse University's S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. Rubin, who has been dean for 18 years, pointed out the obvious in an interview with the Jack Myers Business Report.

Continue reading this post ...


Comments | Category: Free Speech , Media consolidation , The press |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

May 22, 2008 4:50 PM

Consolidation investigation

Posted by Ryan Blethen

Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D. has asked the Government Accountability Office to study media consolidation. The GAO should take up Dorgan's request. A number consumer groups have studied the effects of media consolidation. All the studies have shown that communities are hurt when consolidation shrinks the number of independent voices. It would be hard to imagine the GAO finding any differently.

Dorgan was joined in his request by Sens. Herb Kohl, D-Wisconsin and Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont. The senators want the GAO to examine several issues such as:

Continue reading this post ...


Comments | Category: Media consolidation , The press |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

May 20, 2008 12:33 PM

Resolution editorial

Posted by Ryan Blethen

The Seattle Times editorialized today about the U.S. Senate passing a "resolution of disapproval," which would nullify a new media cross-ownership rule. The edit can be found here. The U.S. House of Representatives has yet to vote on a similar resolution, which was introduced by Reps. Jay Inslee, D-Bainbridge Island and Dave Reichert, R-Auburn.

Continue reading this post ...


Comments | Category: Media consolidation |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

May 16, 2008 12:30 PM

Cantwell on media consolidation

Posted by Ryan Blethen

Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D. has spearheaded the fight in Congress against the Federal Communications Commission's attempts to increase media consolidation. His tireless efforts paid off last night when the Senate passed a "resolution of disapproval," which will scrap the new cross-ownership rules adopted by the FCC in December.

No passing legislation is championed by one lawmaker. Sens. Maria Cantwell and Olympia Snowe, R-Maine have provided critical support and advocacy for media reform. Below is a video of Cantwell's comments from the Senate floor last night.


Continue reading this post ...


Comments | Category: Media consolidation |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

May 15, 2008 4:54 PM

Senate pushes back new FCC rule

Posted by Ryan Blethen

The U.S. Senate approved a "resolution of disapproval" to block new media cross-ownership rules adopted by the FCC in December. Will be back later tonight or tomorrow with more details about the vote and what might happen with a companion resolution in the House.

UPDATE: The resolution passed with a nearly unanimous voice vote. Josh Silver, executive director of Free Press, a group that has worked on rolling back media consolidation and opposed the FCC's revised cross-ownership rule, said:

"Today's historic Senate vote is a resounding victory for the vast majority of Americans who oppose media consolidation. We applaud the bipartisan leadership of Senators Dorgan and Snowe for acting in the public interest. But to stop Big Media from polluting our local airwaves with more junk journalism and propaganda, we need the House to move this legislation forward quickly.


"At this watershed moment, public outrage against Big Media has reached a breaking point. The Bush administration's threats to undercut this bipartisan effort in Congress show how out of touch this president is with the will of the American people. But we're not going to stand idly by and let the White House green light Big Media's expansion. The great pendulum of political change is swinging away from corrosive consolidation and toward better media."

Comments | Category: Media consolidation |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

May 15, 2008 2:42 PM

Media consolidation on the Senate floor

Posted by Ryan Blethen

A "resolution of disapproval" that would stop new media cross-ownership rules from going into effect could be debated on in the Senate tonight. Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D. introduced the resolution earlier this year and it was passed by the Commerce Committee last month.

Continue reading this post ...


Comments | Category: Media consolidation |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

May 14, 2008 4:24 PM

Newsday's independence

Posted by Ryan Blethen

In a post earlier this week about Cablevision buying Newsday from Tribune I wrote that I was not sure what the new ownership would mean for the Long Island newspaper. Cablevision is a company I am only familiar with by name.

Since the sale was announced earlier this week I have been reading stories from New York area newspapers to try and get a sense for how Newsday and Cablevision will co-exist. The signs are not good. Stories in the New York Times and New York Observer portray Cablevision's CEO Jim Dolan as thin-skinned and no fan of the press.

Continue reading this post ...


Comments | Category: Media consolidation , The press |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

May 12, 2008 3:13 PM

Newsday to Cablevision

Posted by Ryan Blethen

Cablevision beat out News Corporation for Newsday. The Long Island cable company will pay $650 million for the Long Island newspaper. I am not sure how this purchase will work out because I am not familiar enough with Cablevision. I can say that I am glad Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation lost out. The other losing bidder was New York Daily News owner Mortimer Zuckerman

Continue reading this post ...


Comments | Category: Media consolidation , The press |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

May 1, 2008 3:33 PM

NAA's lobbying of Congress

Posted by Ryan Blethen

The Newspaper Association of America is lobbying Congress to reject a resolution that would scrap the new media cross-ownership rule adopted by the Federal Communications Commission last December. Why, you ask, would the association that represents newspapers be in favor of policy that undermines a diverse marketplace of ideas?

Continue reading this post ...


Comments | Category: Media consolidation , The press |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

April 30, 2008 5:23 PM

Congressional investigation of the FCC

Posted by Ryan Blethen

The Washington Post reported today that Federal Communications Chairman Kevin Martin could be called to testify before Congress regarding his handling of the regulatory agency.

Continue reading this post ...


Comments | Category: Media consolidation , The press |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

April 26, 2008 8:38 AM

Newsday column

Posted by Ryan Blethen

Here is a link to my column that ran Friday. I wrote about the prospect of Rupert Murdoch buying Long Island's Newsday. I am sure there will be much more ink spilled on this topic.

Comments | Category: Media consolidation |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

April 25, 2008 1:40 PM

Obama and media consolidation

Posted by Ryan Blethen

Sen. Barack Obama continues to say the right things when it comes to media concentration. Broadcasting & Cable has a story about Obama urging the full Senate to act quickly on the "resolution of disapproval," which the Commerce Committee approved Thursday. The resolution would kill the new cross-ownership rule approved by the Federal Communications Commission last December.

Continue reading this post ...


Comments | Category: Media consolidation |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

April 24, 2008 11:52 AM

On to the full Senate

Posted by Ryan Blethen

The Senate Commerce Committee approved the "resolution of disapproval" today. Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D. introduced the resolution in a bid to stop the Federal Communications Commission's new cross-ownership rule from taking effect. Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Bainbridge Island and Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Auburn, have introduced a House companion.

Continue reading this post ...


Comments | Category: Media consolidation |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

April 23, 2008 3:25 PM

Newsday & Murdoch

Posted by Ryan Blethen

Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation has emerged as the likely buyer of Tribune's Newsday, which is on Long Island. I am writing about this for my Friday column and will also bang out an editorial.

Below are some links to stories about the proposed sale of Long Island's Newsday to News Corporation.

Continue reading this post ...


Comments | Category: Media consolidation , The press |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

April 21, 2008 10:00 AM

Media moguls and politics

Posted by Ryan Blethen

Check out the Democracy Papers editorial that ran in today's Seattle Times. The edit can be found here. The piece warns about the dangers to democracy when a media baron like Silvio Berlusconi is elected for a third time as Italy's prime minister.

Comments | Category: Media consolidation , The press |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

April 10, 2008 4:12 PM

Daytona for sale

Posted by Ryan Blethen

The Daytona Beach News-Journal has been put up for sale. The Davidson family owns a majority the independent newspaper and was forced into a sale through the courts.

Continue reading this post ...


Comments | Category: Media consolidation , The press |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

April 9, 2008 3:52 PM

Consolidation talk at Columbia U.

Posted by Ryan Blethen

Seattle Times publisher Frank Blethen (disclaimer: he is my father) was on a panel at Columbia University today talking about media concentration. Editor & Publisher has a story on the panel that can be found here.

Continue reading this post ...


Comments | Category: Media consolidation |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

April 7, 2008 3:34 PM

Zell Watch/Media ownership limits

Posted by Ryan Blethen

The New York Times has a story looking at the financial situation of Tribune. The story, which can be found here, mentions that Sam Zell might put Newsday up for sale.

Continue reading this post ...


Comments | Category: Media consolidation , The press |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

April 3, 2008 9:40 PM

Murrow Symposium

Posted by Ryan Blethen

The symposium has ended, which means I am back in my hotel room and finally have a chance to write. I could have used the time between the panel I was on and the dinner and award ceremony but I got sidetracked by an incredibly stimulating conversation with a fellow panelist.

Continue reading this post ...


Comments | Category: Free Speech , Media consolidation , The press |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

April 3, 2008 10:19 AM

Live from Pullman

Posted by Ryan Blethen

I am in Pullman for the Murrow Symposium, which is put on by the Murrow School at Washington State University. The symposium is capped by presentation of the Murrow award. This year's recipient is Don Hewitt, creator of 60 Minutes. I am on a panel about the FCC and media ownership. The panel, which begins at 1:30, also consists Marilyn Berger who worked for the New York Times and Washington Post, Steve Smith editor of the Spokesman-Review and Jon Rand from the FOX affiliate in Spokane. Here is a link to a story about the event in The Daily Evergreen. Will write about it here. Stay tuned.

Comments | Category: Media consolidation , The press |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

April 1, 2008 9:54 AM

Ben Scott/Free Press profile

Posted by Ryan Blethen

The Washington Post has an excellent profile of Ben Scott, policy director for Free Press. The story, which can be found here, gives a nice glimpse into the workings of Free Press and Scott's effort to push the organization to prominence.

Continue reading this post ...


Comments | Category: Media consolidation , Net neutrality , The press |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

March 24, 2008 4:05 PM

A good and bad day for radio

Posted by Ryan Blethen

Listens of traditional and Internet radio woke up to a new KEXP. The much beloved independent Seattle station started airing its morning show hosted by DJ John Richards in New York. The Seattle Times story can be found here.

Continue reading this post ...


Comments | Category: Media consolidation |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

March 20, 2008 11:13 AM

Melding media

Posted by Ryan Blethen

Tribune is consolidating its South Florida television station and newspaper into a single location. WSFL, a CW affiliate, will be moving into the South Florida Sun-Sentinel building.

The fact that Tribune is allowed to own a television station in the same market as the Sun-Sentinel is bad policy. According to a story in the Sun-Sentinel, the newspaper's executives are saying that this arrangement will be good for advertisers and will put the media outlets in a better position to attract a younger audience.

Continue reading this post ...


Comments | Category: Media consolidation , The press |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

March 19, 2008 3:58 PM

Approve the disapproval part II

Posted by Ryan Blethen

The House followed up on the Senate's attempt to stop the Federal Communications Commission from implementing rule changes that would allow for massive media consolidation.

The "resolution of disapproval" could stop the FCC from lifting the cross-ownership ban. The rule does not allow a company to own a newspaper, television station, and radio station in the same market. The FCC changed the rule in December allowing a single company to own newspaper, broadcast outlet, and Internet Service Provider in the same market. The FCC claims the change will only touch the nation's top 20 media markets. Not exactly. It was worded in a way so companies that do not meet the criteria can apply for waivers, essentially opening up consolidation in every media market.

Continue reading this post ...


Comments | Category: Media consolidation , The press |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

March 19, 2008 11:43 AM

Newspaper ownership models

Posted by Ryan Blethen

The era of independently owned newspapers has passed. That does not mean the model can't make a comeback. An essay in this month's Columbia Journalism Review, which can be found here, looks at one of the few remaining independent metro newspapers and its ownership structure.

Continue reading this post ...


Comments | Category: Media consolidation , The press |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

March 6, 2008 3:30 PM

The Anniston Star and media consolidation

Posted by Ryan Blethen

The Anniston Star, one of America's great family owned newspapers, is running a series about the impact of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. The series, which can be found here and was penned by the newspaper's editor at large John Fleming, shows readers the negative results the legislation has had on northeast Alabama.

Continue reading this post ...


Comments | Category: Free Speech , Media consolidation , The press |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

March 5, 2008 4:00 PM

Approve the disapproval

Posted by Ryan Blethen

Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., introduced a "resolution of disapproval" to stop new media ownership rules recently adopted by the Federal Communications Commission. The story can be found here.

Continue reading this post ...


Comments | Category: Media consolidation |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

March 1, 2008 8:00 AM

Clinton's media policy

Posted by Ryan Blethen

What are the presidential candidates policies for the press, media, the Internet, broadband, cable and telecommunications? I touched on this question in my column yesterday, which can be found here.

Continue reading this post ...


Comments | Category: Broadband , Media consolidation , Net neutrality |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

February 11, 2008 11:29 AM

A temporary reprieve for writers

Posted by Ryan Blethen

It appears the writers strike might come to an end. Members of the Writers Guild of America could vote by tomorrow.

Continue reading this post ...


Comments | Category: Media consolidation |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

February 4, 2008 4:58 PM

The New York Post's endorsement against Clinton

Posted by Ryan Blethen

Continue reading this post ...


Comments | Category: Media consolidation , Net neutrality , The press |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

February 2, 2008 8:49 AM

KIRO cuts local shows

Posted by Ryan Blethen

Seattle has lost more local programming on the radio. You can read the Times story here about how KIRO canned three local shows.

Continue reading this post ...


Comments | Category: Media consolidation |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

February 1, 2008 8:57 AM

Media consolidation's impact on politics

Posted by Ryan Blethen

Below you will find a blog post by Eric Easter on ebonyjet.com. Another example of how media consolidation hurts the political process.

Continue reading this post ...


Comments | Category: Media consolidation |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

January 25, 2008 9:31 AM

An editor's farewell

Posted by Ryan Blethen

Sam Zell did not waste much time shaking things up at the Los Angeles Times. LA Times publisher David Hiller fired the paper's editor, James O'Shea, who had only been on the job for 14 months.

Continue reading this post ...


Comments | Category: Media consolidation , The press |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

January 24, 2008 12:39 PM

700MHz auction

Posted by Ryan Blethen

Here is a link to an editorial in today's Seattle Times. The edit is about the 700MHz auction that begins today.

Continue reading this post ...


Comments | Category: Broadband , Media consolidation , Net neutrality |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

January 14, 2008 11:32 AM

West Seattle Blog

Posted by Ryan Blethen

Seattle Times columnist Danny Westneat had a good column in Sunday's paper about a Web site devoted to West Seattle news. Westneat's column can be found here.

West Seattle Blog feels strangely familiar for a couple reasons. One being that the news is the nuts and blots stuff people need. The second reason it felt familiar to me was the content. I edited a weekly section in my previous gig as an assignment editor in Maine. The section, which was called Your Neighbors, was filled with much of what you find at West Seattle Blog. Small business stories. Stories about class projects. Lot's of traffic related pieces.

Continue reading this post ...


Comments | Category: Media consolidation , The press |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

January 9, 2008 1:07 PM

Postman v. Blethen

Posted by Ryan Blethen

A couple posts back I suggested that journalists should speak out against media consolidation. My colleague, and fellow Seattle Times blogger, David Postman responded with a different point of view. Here is his comment on my post:

"Ryan, I have to disagree. There is a political line for journalists, and speaking out about consolidation and the FCC is on the other side of that line from good reporting. I think reporters should refrain from giving their political opinions, even if it is something that might help our business.

The Newspaper Guild has spoken out against consolidation. The union and the Blethens are on the same side of that issue I think. There have been instances where the union wanted members to take political stands. There are some who think we should even be able to work on political campaigns.

There have been issues, certainly the estate tax comes to mind, that management of the Times believes is about the survival of our industry. If reporters speak out about consolidation should they also be free to express opinions about tax policy? I don't think so.

We have an editorial page that can do that, and an owner, a publisher, press organizations, the union leadership etc. Adding reporters to the list would only compromise our independence."


Continue reading this post ...


Comments | Category: Free Speech , Media consolidation , The press |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

January 7, 2008 11:22 AM

U.S. News & World Report reports

Posted by Ryan Blethen

U.S. News and World Report had a piece last week about the Federal Communications Commission and cross-ownership, which can be found here. No revelations for anybody who follows the FCC and the press. It is a good piece for newbies.

Continue reading this post ...


Comments | Category: Media consolidation |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

December 23, 2007 6:38 AM

J-school deans

Posted by Ryan Blethen

The deans of America's top journalism schools called for journalists to become more active in the political discussion of their profession. In the op-ed, which can be found here, the deans write:

"But our profession needs to cast its reluctance to discuss broadcast regulation aside, and to let its voice be heard, loud and clear - on behalf of local reporting. The outcome of F.C.C. policy that matters most to us is not who owns what, but how much news gathering goes on."

Continue reading this post ...


Comments | Category: Free Speech , Media consolidation , The press |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

December 22, 2007 6:35 AM

Comment response

Posted by Ryan Blethen

Blogging at Daily Democracy will slow, but not stop, with Christmas and New Years just days away. I wanted to respond to a comment before the holiday frenzy completely consumes my time.

T Heller wrote:

"Ryan, surely you can't mean it when you write: 'Do not really care how the Times got there, just that they did.' Surely how they weighed various factors to be considered is important - indeed, critical in formulating their opinion. If you disagree with that observation, then your mind is prone to being labelled as closed, is it not? Talk about an inclination towared the "pre-ordained" outcome!! You need to sharpen your analytic logic...."

Continue reading this post ...


Comments | Category: Media consolidation |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

December 21, 2007 9:29 AM

Saddle up, Tribune's new sheriff

Posted by Ryan Blethen

It is official. Tribune is now under the control of Chicago real-estate mogul Sam Zell. The story is here. I assume Zell is sending FCC Chairman Kevin Martin a nice Christmas gift. Martin made it all possible by granting cross-ownership waivers so the deal could be completed.

It is worth reading the Zell profile in last month's New Yorker. The story can be found here.

Continue reading this post ...


Comments | Category: Media consolidation , The press |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

December 17, 2007 4:42 PM

Spotlight on the FCC

Posted by Ryan Blethen

The Federal Communications Commission is getting a lot of attention today because of tomorrow's vote. FCC Chairman Kevin Martin is getting blasted with more requests to hold off on the vote. The most interesting letter from 26 senators, including Maria Cantwell, Barack Obama, and Joseph Biden. The letter, which can be found here, tells Martin to pull back or the Senate will pass a law nullifying his proposal if it passes.

Martin also received a letter from the National Hispanic Media Coalition, League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), Rainbow PUSH Coalition, Black Leadership Forum and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. I could not find a copy of the letter online and did not want to cut and paste it into this post for the sake of length. Needless to say the above mentioned groups are against tomorrow's vote and media consolidation.

One of today's more fascinating FCC stories was in Saturday's Denver Post. The paper's TV critic Joanne Ostrow has a nice piece with some good insight:

"Remember when it was not considered naïve to suggest that broadcast licenses were not licenses to print money, but permission to operate in what the original Communications Act called 'the public interest, convenience and necessity'?"

What makes Ostrow's pointed comments about the FCC interesting is the position taken by her publisher Dean Singleton. Singleton owns MediaNews, a giant newspaper chain, and has long been a cross-ownership proponent. Singleton probably falls into the same camp as his buddies at the Newspaper Association of America, which was upset that Martin's plan did not go far enough.

Ostrow does miss the mark when she wonders where the public outcry was on this go-around on cross-ownership compared to 2003 when nearly 3 million people contacted the FCC.

"The last time the FCC tried to push through this sort of deregulation in 2003, 3 million Americans weighed in opposing any change. This time, there doesn't seem to be much public outcry."

There has been a massive public outcry. The six media ownership hearings the FCC held across the country the past year were packed. Nearly all the testimony was in favor of strong cross-ownership laws. According to Free Press more than 100,000 people have contacted the FCC and Congress through the StopBigMedia.com campaign. Martin's tight schedule on media ownership has probably been an effective deterrent to more public comment.

The public reaction appears muted because of the sorry coverage the media ownership issues get in the press. Very few of the nation's big newspapers covered all six of the media ownership hearings. There has also been scant coverage of related issues such as the low number of women and minorities that own media outlets, or how the country music scene has suffered because of consolidation. Had these topics and more been on the pages of America's newspapers the public's true concern about media consolidation would have been better known. Coverage at this point does little good to inform the public, Congress or the FCC.

The New York Times had an edit opposing changes to the cross-ownership rule. I rolled my eyes at the first few grafs, which talk about how the media landscape has changed since the cross-ownership ban was adopted in the 1970s. That is how most editorials supporting a lifting of the ban begin. But the Times shifts gears and comes out against Martin's plan. Fine with me. Do not really care how the Times got there, just that they did.

My favorite reading today came from Harold Feld at Wetmachine. I can't help mentioning Feld's Wetmachine posts. I find his insights useful, and his analysis spot on. His latest posts looks at Martin's consistent approach to his time at the FCC. Well worth a read.

Comments | Category: Media consolidation |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

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.

Comments | Category: Media consolidation |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

December 14, 2007 2:40 PM

FCC oversight hearing wrap-up

Posted by Ryan Blethen

Most of the big newspapers have stories about Thursday's Senate Commerce Committee FCC oversight hearing. The theme to most was Kevin Martin's refusal to put off Tuesday's vote on cross-ownership. Most of the committee asked Martin to do so. The Washington Post story can be found here, Los Angeles Times here, and the AP here.
Bob Williams at Consumer Union's Hear Us Now blog has a nice little summary of the hearing.

I was not surprised by Marin's firm rebuff of the senators. He has shown little interest in serving the public by ignore testimony at hearings, and overlooking his own studies that prove the damage done by media consolidation. Angry questions from the Senate at this late date are not going to change his mind.

I thought the most interesting development at the oversight hearing was something said by Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.V. He suggested putting any commissioner nominations on hold while the committee works on an overhaul of the FCC. Commerce Committee Chairman Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, said that he liked Rockefeller's idea. Broadcasting and Cable have a story about it here.

Martin might be able to head off such drastic action by listening to the near unanimous chorus against media consolidation. A good start would be postponing Tuesday's vote and going through a credible evaluation of the agencies rules.

Look for an edit about Tuesday's vote in Sunday's Seattle Times.

Comments | Category: Media consolidation |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

December 13, 2007 4:18 PM

Junk Media

Posted by Ryan Blethen

StopBigMedia.com just released a funny video. It takes aim at the poor quality of news produced by the media biggies. Check it out.


Comments | Category: Media consolidation |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

December 13, 2007 10:12 AM

FCC oversight hearing & Cantwell

Posted by Ryan Blethen

Maria Cantwell again proved to be an articulate and pointed advocate against media consolidation. She questioned Kevin Martin's logic about the threat of the Internet to newspapers, and using that supposed threat to allow for consolidation. She chastised him for using the Internet as a "boogyman," then pointed out that in 2006 newspapers had an operating profit margin of 17.8 percent.

I can imagine a lot of big media companies would want to own newspapers.

Martin, as he has throughout the hearing, said he has no choice but to go forward on lifting the cross-ownership ban because the Telecommunications Act of 1996 requires the FCC to update its rules when needed. Seems to be his fallback non-answer, answer.

Cantwell was not impressed:

I think you are getting it absolutely wrong.
Enough said.

Comments | Category: Media consolidation |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

December 13, 2007 8:44 AM

FCC oversight hearing III

Posted by Ryan Blethen

Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., was the first senator to question the commissioners. He circled back on something said by Kevin Martin in his opening statement. The chairman had said that cross-ownership is needed to save newspapers. Lott pointed out that newspapers are not the FCC's concern, then cracked a joke:

"I don't get why Republicans would be crying alligator tears over newspapers."

Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, just said that the FCC should take more time on any decision. He then went on to say that newspapers are struggling because there is nothing worth reading. Viewers should remember that Stevens has been in Alaska's newspapers a lot during the last year. The coverage has not been flattering.

Lott also mentioned that newspapers are killing themselves. He is partly right. There are many bad newspapers. What Lott and Stevens need to understand is that cross-ownership and conglomeration leads to bad, or light journalism.

Comments | Category: Media consolidation |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

December 13, 2007 8:28 AM

FCC oversight hearing II

Posted by Ryan Blethen

The opening statements from the commissioners was as expected. Kevin Martin said that he is simply doing what is mandated by Congress, and that the process was much more open than the last time the FCC tried to increase media consolidation in 2003.

Democrats, Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein, are upset, as they should be. Copps implored the Senate to stop what he probably will not be able to obstruct. Adelstein did good by pointing out the obvious. Nowhere in the country are people clamoring for the FCC to get rid of the cross-ownership band, an action that would allow a company to own a newspaper, broadcast outlet, and an Internet Service Provider in the same market.

I am not sure Republican commissioner Deborah Tate has paid attention to what she has seen this past year. She chirped on about the 'iGeneration' and the incredible diversity of media 'platforms.' She proudly mentioned that one of the FCC's media ownership hearings was held in her home town of Nashville. Be interesting how she votes on Martin's plan Tuesday. The commission was told in great detail how media consolidation has hurt the country music industry, and the press in Nashville. That hearing should have been enough to convince her to vote against Martin's plan. The most bizarre thing she suggested was a Wall Street conference to find ways to get women and minorities invested in the media. Why would Wall Street spend time on something that it has never thought made sense to the bottom line.

Commissioner Robert McDowell gave a safe statement about how the media landscape is different now than it was 30 years ago.

Comments | Category: Media consolidation |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

December 13, 2007 8:01 AM

Commerce Committee FCC oversight hearing

Posted by Ryan Blethen

The U.S. Senate Commerce Committee's Federal Communication Commission oversight hearing got off to a late start. No surprise considering the meeting involves the FCC, which has had a heck of a time staring its meetings on time. I am not in Washington, D.C. Sitting on my couch watching the hearing on C-SPAN 3.

Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., opened the hearing with a statement before he left for an appropriations meeting. Dorgan set the tone saying that he believes FCC Chairman Kevin Martin's plan to jettison the cross-ownership ban is a very bad idea. He urged his colleagues to be tough on the FCC commissioners.

I think there are a lot of questions here that need to be asked.
He concluded by saying that the commissioners should reject the chairman's plan, and give media ownership a more substantive review.

If the commissioners do not, Dorgan might be able to derail Martin's efforts to increase media consolidation. The commerce committee has approved his bill, the Media Ownership Act of 2007, which would force the FCC to take more time on rule changes, and create a panel to study media ownership for minorities and women.

Comments | Category: Media consolidation |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

December 12, 2007 3:59 PM

Cross-ownership vote

Posted by Ryan Blethen

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin Martin has scheduled a Tuesday vote on cross-ownership. Reuters has a story here. The move comes as no surprise. Martin had said for more than a month that he would be seeking a Dec. 18 vote.

The hope was that after listening to the nearly unanimous public outcry for keeping the cross-ownership rule - which bans a company from owning a newspaper, television station, and radio station, in the same market - that Martin would relent, or at the very least slow down. That hope was squashed after Martin reveled his plan encouraging media consolidation only four days after the last FCC media ownership hearing in Seattle on Nov. 9.

My guess is that he will have the votes from the other two Republicans on the commission. The Democrats will surely vote no. That leaves it in the hands of Congress. There is a bill moving through the Senate that would blow up Martin's plan. It passed the Commerce Committee but still needs to be approved by the full Senate.

Now would be a good time to contact your Congressmen and Senators and tell them what the FCC has ignored: Media consolidation must be stopped.

Comments | Category: Media consolidation |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

December 12, 2007 11:22 AM

Harry Potter casts a media reform spell

Posted by Ryan Blethen

Barack Obama has Oprah. The media reform movement has Harry Potter. A little magic never hurts. Especially when battling the media biggies, with their deep pockets and many press outlets.

StopBigMedia.com and the Harry Potter Alliance have joined forces and launched a new Web site called Potterwatch. The Web site is aimed at getting Harry's many loyal fans moving against America's Voldemort like media.

In a press release the Harry Potter Alliance's creator and director, Andrew Slack, said:

The Harry Potter books offer a vivid example of what can happen when too much media rests in the hands of too few. In the series, Wizarding newspapers like the Daily Prophet put the magical community in serious jeopardy by denying Voldemort's return, failing to cover abuses from the Ministry and ultimately becoming a mouthpiece for Voldemort.

My initial reaction to the press release was one of laughter. That changed after visiting Potterwatch. The idea that an independent press is vital to a free society is not the sole possession of journalists, or media reformers. It is something people intuitively get, regardless of age or career.

If it takes Harry Potter to awaken a generation to the dire consequences of media consolidation, so be it.

Comments | Category: Media consolidation |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

December 11, 2007 11:16 AM

Obama's Seattle visit

Posted by Ryan Blethen

Barack Obama is in Seattle briefly today for Generation Obama. This event at the Showbox SoDo is a great opportunity for the senator from Illinois to talk about media consolidation. Obama has been very vocal on the topic. He was one of the co-sponsors of the Media Ownership Act of 2007, which if passed by the Senate, could derail FCC Chairman Kevin Martin's plan to increase consolidation by lifting the cross-ownership ban.

After the Senate Commerce Committee approved the bill last week Obama said:

The rules promoting the public interest and diversity in media ownership are too important to allow the FCC chairman to force through an agenda supported by Washington lobbyists that favors corporate interests over the people's interests. I commend the Senate Commerce Committee for passing the Dorgan-Lott-Obama Media Ownership Act. The bill requires what I have been urging for more than one year - that the FCC place its public charge ahead of its concern for corporate profits.

This message will find a friendly audience tonight. He should use these opportunities to expand on this message, make it his own, and force the rest of the presidential hopefuls to address media consolidation head-on.

Comments | Category: Media consolidation |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

December 11, 2007 10:29 AM

This week in Washington, D.C.

Posted by Ryan Blethen

Minority media ownership, localism, and media consolidation will be front and center this week in Washington, D.C. Both the House and Senate will be holding hearings on the issues.

The U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee's Antitrust Task Force will have a hearing on media consolidation, and its impact on localism and minority ownership tomorrow. The hearing is at 2 p.m. in room 2141 Rayburn House Office Building.

The U.S. Senate Commerce Committee is holding an oversight hearing for the Federal Communications Commission. The committee will listen to the five FCC commissioners talk about media and telecommunications policy. The hearing is at 10 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 13 in room 253 of the Russell Senate Office Building.

Dan Rather, along with S. Derek Turner of Free Press will be testifying before the House Judiciary Committee. Should be interesting. Rather is not one to hold back.

Hopefully the Commerce oversight hearing cements the Senate's worry about the FCC chairman's plan to get rid of cross-ownership rules. The committee approved a bipartisan bill last week that would force the FCC to slow down and consider the effects of cross-ownership on local programming. The Media Ownership Act of 2007 would also force the FCC to create a panel to study how more minorities and women could become owners of broadcast outlets.

The Senate needs to move on this bill. FCC Chairman Kevin Martin wants a vote on his cross-ownership plan by next Tuesday.

Comments | Category: Media consolidation |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

December 10, 2007 3:55 PM

Dysfunction at the FCC

Posted by Ryan Blethen

Jim Puzzanghera of the Los Angeles Times has a story today about how dysfunctional the Federal Communications Commission is under the leadership of Kevin Martin. Not a revelation for anybody that has been following the commission. Puzzanghera got some disturbing insider quotes, like:

He is a lone operator, said an FCC insider who did not want to publicly criticize Martin. Sometimes even his own staff doesn't really know what he's thinking and what's he's going to do next.

Yikes. Americans should be worried that a government agency with so much influence on our democracy is essentially being guided by one voice.

Comments | Category: Media consolidation |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

December 10, 2007 1:19 PM

Comment response

Posted by Ryan Blethen

Expect to see more entries here at Daily Democracy now that I am back from vacation and have wrapped up another project. A lot happened last week on the media consolidation/FCC front. Will post on that once I get caught up.

First, I would like to respond to some comments left here about my disappointment with Hilary Clinton's weak response to a question about media consolidation. Matt Zemek wrote:

Ryan, You are aware that Hillary has accepted cash from Mr. Murdoch, at least $500,000, if I'm not mistaken (this happened several months ago). This would explain her non-answer answer.

Nice to hear from you, Matt. I am not aware of the amount of money that Rupert Murdoch has given to Clinton, but was aware he held a fund-raiser for her. I think you are correct about this being part of the reason for her non-answer. Here is a New York Times story about Murdoch's Clinton fund-raiser.

Not everybody agrees with Matt and me. Michael wrote:

All Presidential candidates accept money from someone who has corporate interests. They are standing in line, trying to give Hillary money for her campaign. It would be illegal for Murdoch to give her $500,000 for her campaign and he wouldn't do that, anyway.

Why wouldn't Murdoch do it? I would assume that Murdoch would want to be in Clinton's good graces if she becomes president. A number of stories out of New York and Washington, D.C. have mentioned how Murdoch's New York Post has warmed to Clinton.

Clinton's unwillingness to move beyond a canned response on media consolidation is disappointing. Especially considering that a number of other Democrats seeking the presidency such as Barack Obama and Joseph Biden have come out strong against media consolidation. This should be an easy call for any candidate, Republican or Democrat.

Another comment left to the Clinton post dealt with media consolidation, but not in the presidential race. Jack wrote:

Has Ryan Blethen forgotten that his company owns several other newspapers in Washington state? Is this not media consolidation? Doesn't Yakima and Walla Walla deserve a local, independent newspaper?

No Jack, I have not forgotten, and I am not worried about my family's ownership of these newspapers. The Yakima Herald-Republic, and Walla Walla Union Bulletin are not in the same market. There is no overlap in circulation, or management. Both newspapers are operated independently of Seattle. Owning three daily papers in Washington is hardly comparable to the obscene number of broadcast outlets, and newspapers owned by the conglomerates that dominate this country.

UPDATE: Here are links to Columbia Journalism Review and Free Press. Both Web sites keep a list of what the media biggies own.

Comments | Category: Media consolidation |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

November 26, 2007 5:14 PM

Clinton's missed opportunity

Posted by Ryan Blethen

Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton missed an opportunity this weekend to speak out against media consolidation. According to The New York Times political blog, The Caucus, Clinton was asked at an event in Iowa if it was bad that Rupert Murdoch was allowed to own so much of America's media.

A real softball that Clinton could have smashed. Instead she gave a lame response about the consumer being hurt when choice is limited.

The questioner singled Murdoch out. Clinton did not in her response.

I'm not saying anything against any company in particular. I just want to see more competition, especially in the same markets.

Sounds as if Clinton does not want to single out somebody who has done fundraising for her and somebody who owns so much of the press in the state she represents. Murdoch owns the New York Post, two television stations in the city, and will soon have the Wall Street Journal.

Ownership matters, and needs to be major component of the presidential debate. Barack Obama and Joseph Biden has done a good job of addressing media consolidation, and other issues such as network neutrality. I wrote last month about both senators positions.

Clinton should take note. Media consolidation is no longer an obscure debate. She should come out against the FCC's plan to get rid of the cross-ownership ban. Better yet, the senator should champion rules that would not create a media environment that backs her into consolidation's corner.

Comments | Category: Media consolidation |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

November 26, 2007 2:44 PM

Cross-ownership analysis

Posted by Ryan Blethen

Free Press released an analysis today of FCC Chairman Kevin Martin's proposal to do away with the cross-ownership ban. A quick reading of the analysis, which can be found here, confirms many of the positions The Seattle Times editorial page has taken on the proposal. Those positions can be found here, here, and here.

The Free Press analysis brings to light how Martin's plan will be exploited by media conglomerates to extend their reach by junking the cross-ownership ban. Martin is clearly hoping that by only focusing on cross-ownership the other commissioners and Congress will let his changes stand. This study strengthens the argument that Martin's proposal needs to be rejected.

Comments | Category: Media consolidation |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

November 14, 2007 1:21 PM

A good read

Posted by Ryan Blethen

Tracy Warner, the Wenatchee World's editorial page editor, had an excellent column Tuesday. He does a great job framing Kevin Martin's proposed media ownership rule changes around a very local example.

Also worth reading is Harold Feld at Wetmachine. Feld, who when not moonlighting at Wetmachine is senior vice president of the Media Access Project, has a interesting and honest take on Martin and his proposal.

Comments | Category: Media consolidation |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

November 14, 2007 10:55 AM

Cross ownership reaction

Posted by Ryan Blethen

Nobody is pleased with FCC Chairman Kevin Martin's plan for cross ownership. No surprise that the public and consumer groups recognize the proposal as bad policy. I was somewhat surprised by the response from the media Biggies. John Sturm, President of the Newspaper Association of America, believes the proposal does not go far enough according to a quote in the Washington Post.

The fundamental issues he raises concerning the vitality of newspapers and assuring that local news remains available to the public in print and in broadcast are not confined to the top 20 markets. The radical and irreversible market changes that have occurred in every community since this rule was adopted more than 30 years ago have extinguished any basis for this across-the-board ban.

One of the strongest statements against the proposal came from Sen. Maria Cantwell, who as a member of the Commerce Committee is in a position to do something about the FCC. She said as much in a press release.

Again and again, Chairman Martin has attempted to ram through rules that will encourage media concentration despite the public's loud and clear opposition. I'm disappointed but unsurprised that after claiming the hearings were going to be a critical part of the FCC's process, and giving the public merely a week's notice on the hearing, he has released a proposal that ignores the over nine hours of testimony from Washingtonians barely 72 hours later. The chairman says he invites public comment on his proposals, so I hope that everyone will contact the FCC to let them know exactly what they think of this proposal. If Congress has to act to stop media consolidation, we will.

The two Democrats on the FCC also blasted Martin and his plan.

JOINT STATEMENT BY COMMISSIONERS COPPS AND ADELSTEIN ON CHAIRMAN MARTIN'S CROSS-OWNERSHIP PROPOSAL

This is portrayed as a moderate proposal, but it is a wolf in sheep's clothing. Don't let the wool be pulled over your eyes. The proposal could repeal the ban in every market in America, not just the top twenty. Any city, no matter how small, could be subjected to newspaper broadcast ownership combinations under a very loose standard.

Under Chairman Martin's plan, all markets will be open to one company combining broadcast properties with cable, the newspaper (already a monopoly in most places), even the Internet Service Provider. His proposal could propel a frenzy of competition-stifling mergers across the land. He can try to characterize his plan as affecting only the "largest markets," but consider:

• The top 20 markets account for over 43% of U.S. households. Even on its face, this proposal directly affects over 120 million Americans.

• The Chairman then creates a loophole that Big Media will drive a truck through, permitting a newspaper-broadcast combination in any market in the country. We have seen how loosely the Commission has granted waivers in the past. If this proposal goes through, the FCC could grant cross-ownership applications in such small towns as Meridian, Mississippi and Bend, Oregon. When big conglomerates can't get their way in a general rule, they press for loopholes that swallow the rule, and they would succeed with this approach.

• The non-top four stations that major newspapers will now be competing for are precisely the stations more likely to be owned by small, independent broadcasters. If we ever got serious about women and minority ownership, these are also the stations most available to them. Chairman Martin's rule pretty much reserves these outlets for the big guys. So this proposal actually perpetuates the shamefully low levels of minority and female media ownership.

The Martin rules are clearly not ready for prime time. Under the Chairman's timetable, we count 19 working days for public comment. That is grossly insufficient. The American people should have a minimum of 90 days to comment, just as many Members of Congress have requested. More importantly, the Commission has yet to finish its Localism proceeding, teed up four years ago, or to forward comprehensive ideas to increase women and minority ownership of broadcast outlets.

There is still time to do this the right way. Congress and the thousands of American citizens we have talked to want a thoughtful and deliberate rulemaking, not an alarming rush to judgment characterized by insultingly short notices for public hearings, inadequate time for public comment, flawed studies and a tainted peer review process - all designed to make sure that the Chairman can deliver a generous gift to Big Media before the holidays. For the rest of us: a lump of coal.

We realize there is some urgency with respect to the Tribune transaction. The Chairman, however, has refused to act on Tribune's waiver requests that would permit the transaction to close. Let us be clear: it is improper to hold the Tribune hostage in order to force a vote on media ownership before the end of the year. We are prepared to vote on the Tribune waiver requests within three working days after the Chairman circulates a draft decision. There is simply no excuse for using Tribune as a human shield.


Comments | Category: Media consolidation |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

November 13, 2007 3:37 PM

The Great Compromiser

Posted by Ryan Blethen

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin is trying to look like the great compromiser. His proposal to allow a company to own a newspaper, television station, and radio station in the same market is much more narrow than what the FCC approved in 2003. The narrow approach does not mean Martin's proposal is any better than former Chairman Michael Powell's of 2003.

Martin's plan would allow for cross-ownership in the top 20 media markets, and would not allow for a merger if a television station is ranked in the top four in a market. The proposal does seem to leave wiggle room for cross ownership outside the country's largest media markets. The proposal allows the commission to make exceptions for companies that do not meet the seemingly limiting criteria.

Martin appears to be using his tough stance on cable to soften Congress on his wanting to lift the cross ownership ban. The New York Times had a page 1 story Saturday about Martin taking it to the cable companies, and pushing issues such as a la carte, and limiting cable companies access to no more than 30 percent of a market.

His offer of cable for cross ownership is flawed. The two are not related. It does not matter what shows are available, or what percentage of the market a cable company can reach for a newspaper to stay viable.

Congress should not swallow Martin's bait, neither should the other four FCC commissioners.

Comments | Category: Media consolidation |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

November 12, 2007 3:47 PM

Bipartisan support

Posted by Ryan Blethen

The Pacific Northwest showed up in large numbers for Friday night's FCC media ownership hearing. People made the drive from Idaho and Oregon to join the crowd of about 800 in Town Hall. A good showing considering the short notice given for the hearing.

What I found the most impressive was the bipartisan message against media consolidation. Gov. Christine Gregoire's fiery speech was echoed by Republican state Attorney General Rob McKenna, and Republican King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn. The state's delegation weighed in via video. Maria Cantwell, Jay Inslee, and Dave Reichert all opposed changes to media ownership rules.

As expected, the crowd was overwhelmingly against media consolidation. The only people I heard encourage the FCC commissioners to loosen media ownership rules were the broadcasters on the first panel. I left shortly after the second panel, but would guess that the second round of public testimony was identical to the first round. Aggressively opposed to any plans to allow conglomerates to own more.

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin is expected to release his changes to media ownership rules this week. I cannot imagine he was swayed by the Seattle hearing. Hopefully the bipartisan showing, and the audience's passion can persuade one of the other two Republicans on the commission.

Comments | Category: Media consolidation |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

November 10, 2007 7:43 AM

Blogging failure

Posted by Ryan Blethen

I could not blog from Town Hall last night during the FCC media ownership hearing. There was WiFi, but I lacked a password for what was available, and did not have enough technical skill to work around the problem. I will write about the hearing here a bit this weekend, and Monday. The hearing was impressive. The panelists were fantastic, and the crowd's energy grew as the hearing dragged on.

Comments | Category: Media consolidation |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

November 9, 2007 2:47 PM

Live blogging, maybe

Posted by Ryan Blethen

In case anybody missed the coverage this week, the Federal Communications Commission is holding its last media ownership hearing from 4 to 11 p.m. tonight at Town Hall, 1119 Eighth Ave, Seattle, WA 98101. This is the last chance to tell the commissioners your thoughts on media ownership.

I will be blogging from the hearing, that is if I can. Somebody at Town Hall said there is WiFi, but that the service is spotty.

Comments | Category: Media consolidation |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

November 9, 2007 10:34 AM

Adelstein and Copps reading

Posted by Ryan Blethen

Now is a good time to become familiar with Jonathan Adelstein and Michael Copps. They are in Seattle today for the Federal Communication Commission hearing at Town Hall tonight.

Copps was the focus of The Seattle Times Close-Up page on Thursday and will be answering questions from readers on seattletimes.com today from 11 a.m. to noon. Copps wrote an excellent op/ed for the Democracy Papers in September.

Adelstein had a strong op/ed about tonight's media ownership hearing in Thursday's Times. I had a wide ranging interview with him in September that was turned into a podcast for the Democracy Papers. The interview can be found on the Democracy Papers site. It is the next to last item under the podcast heading on the right side of the page.

Comments | Category: Media consolidation |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

November 8, 2007 4:34 PM

Seattle hearing panel

Posted by Ryan Blethen

The Federal Communications Commission released the panel for Friday's media ownership hearing at 4 p.m. in Town Hall. Full disclosure: I am related to Frank Blethen. He is my father.


Mark Allen, President & CEO, Washington State Association of Broadcasters

Frank Blethen, Publisher/CEO, Seattle Times

John Carlson, Radio Talk Show Host, KVI-AM

Erubiel Valladares-Carranzo II, Technical Engineer, KPCN-LP 96.3 FM Radio Movimiento "La Voz del Pueblo"

Bernie Foster, Publisher, The Portland Skanner, The Seattle Skanner

Ray Heacox, General Manager, King Broadcasting Seattle

Elizabeth Blanks Hindman, Associate Professor, Edward R. Murrow School of Communication at Washington State University

Diana Kramer, Vice President and General Manager, Puget Sound Publishing Company

Pamela S. Pearson, Vice President/General Manager, KCPQ/KMYQ-TV, Tribune Broadcasting Company

Jon Rand, General Manager, KAYU TV, Spokane, KCYU TV, Yakima, KFFX TV, Tri-Cities

Cheryl A. Salomone, Vice President and Market Manager, New Northwest Broadcasters - Tri Cities, WA

Abby Dylan, National Board Member, Screen Actors Guild Seattle

Bruce Fife, President, American Federation of Musicians, Local 99

Christina Romano Glaubke, Director, Children and the Media Program, Children Now

Joseph Orozco, Station Manager, KIDE 91.3 FM

Michelle Santosuosso, Former Vice President of Artist and Label Relations, Napster, Inc.

Comments | Category: Media consolidation |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

November 7, 2007 1:11 PM

Kevin Martin's early days on the FCC

Posted by Ryan Blethen

Do not be fooled by Kevin Martin's boyish looks. Behind those little round bookish glasses is an intelligent political operator. That is the impression I got from a 2002 profile of the current chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. The article appeared in Cable World and was written by Alicia Mundy, who is now The Seattle Times Washington, D.C. correspondent.

Mundy shows how Martin operated on the commission before he was elevated to chairman. Martin increased his visibility and power by positioning himself as a swing vote that never really swung. A lobbyist who used to work at the FCC said as much.

Martin's being very strategic right now. He's not dissenting in ways the right wing can complain about. He is acting independently, but being careful not to be seen as an ideological threat to the GOP agenda.

The piece also veers into Martin's relationship with the White House. I wrote yesterday that media consolidation is not a partisan issue, but that this was something the administration was pushing. Former FCC commissioner, and Martin's one time boss, Harold Furchtgott-Roth said Martin is there for Bush.

There are few people in Washington with a greater claim to being a loyal soldier for President Bush than Kevin. He's always been there for President Bush at the commission.

Mundy's profile is well worth reading before Friday's FCC media ownership hearing at Town Hall.

Comments | Category: Media consolidation |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

November 6, 2007 11:04 AM

Consolidation should not be partisian

Posted by Ryan Blethen

Daily Democracy has received some comments about partisanship and the Federal Communications Commission. The writers claim that FCC Chairman Kevin Martin is pushing to change media ownership laws because he is a Republican. Take for example what Leon Schmidt wrote:

I object to the short notification period given for the Public Hearing in Media Ownership rules to be held in Seattle Washington scheduled for Nov. 9th 2007. This meeting schedule does not even give even the faintest appearance of soliciting comment from a concerned public and only appears to cater to companies and organizations that stand to benefit from expanded relaxed media ownership rules. FCC Chairman Martin is a guardian of our airwaves and it is a shame that a big business agenda tries to govern fair use of the public spectrum and the public's ability to weigh in on these issues.

Simply stated, I do not believe that expanded relaxed media ownership rules are in the best interest of this country. Partisan manipulation of the public input comment periods ought to be enough proof of the dangers of giving too few control of Radio/TV air content.

This note has the feel of turf, but raises some good points, except for the claim that Martin is engaging in partisan manipulation.

Then there was this from Elliott Swenson:

There was a full half hour dedicated to this very topic last night on PBS' Bill Moyers Journal. FCC Chairman Martin may try to sneak this Seattle hearing in at the last minute, but it doesn't take long for people who have been waiting for a chance to confront this goof. More stations and newspapers owned by huge corporations? What are you a Republican? Oh right, Martin is!

This reads as if I am saying that consolidation is good. Yikes! Elliot is correct about Martin, though. He is a Republican, but that does not mean that Republicans are the bad guys on this issue. I believe this is more of a Bush administration problem, which by extension makes it a Republican problem.

Some of the leaders against media consolidation are Republicans. Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, both from Maine, are big on this issue. Snowe has joined up with Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., pushing for a net neutrality law. Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., has also teamed up with Dorgan on media ownership.

Traditional Republican reflexes are for less government, and a distrust of big business. Presidents Theodore Roosevelt, then William Howard Taft were the original trust busters.

We should not forget that the latest wave of consolidation happened with the Telecommunications Act of 1996 during the presidency of Bill Clinton. There was a Republican majority that overwhelmingly voted for the legislation, but so did nearly all the Democrats in the House.

Media consolidation is too important to be reduced to partisan bickering. An independent press is at the core American democracy. That should be enough to unite and defeat what really is a threat from the Bush administration.

Comments | Category: Media consolidation |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

November 5, 2007 4:25 PM

Minority owned broadcast stations

Posted by Ryan Blethen

Twenty-one civil rights groups sent a letter to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin Martin today. The letter implores him to do something about the lack of minority owned broadcast outlets. The letter is below.

Dear Chairman Martin:

We are writing to call on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to address the issue of minority ownership. Assembled together here as leaders of minority communities speaking with one voice, we request the creation of an independent task force to conduct a specific inquiry into the impact of market concentration on female and minority ownership before moving forward with issuing any new ownership rules for broadcast media. On its face, the Commission's movement toward eliminating media ownership limits appears to severely undercut its statutory and moral obligation to promote minority ownership of broadcast stations. The failure of the FCC to even acknowledge this contradiction is deeply troubling, and this letter is intended to highlight the problem and propose a course of action.

We appreciate that you are open to the idea of creating a task force to thoroughly study the policy goal of promoting minority ownership of broadcast stations. But we are alarmed by recent reports indicating that you will not wait until the work of such a task force is completed before issuing new rules that may permit further media consolidation. This is not acceptable. An uninformed rush to eliminate ownership limits may set back the expansion of minority ownership by a generation and leave us little recourse.

The Commission already labors under a credibility deficit on this issue. Minority ownership is in crisis precisely because the FCC has long neglected to consider the issue as a critical public policy goal. The frustration is not limited to our community. The U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals admonished the FCC for failing to address the issue of minority ownership. The available evidence indicates cause for deep concern. According to the best available independent research--which, unfortunately, has never been duplicated by the Commission--women and minorities own broadcast stations at roughly one-tenth the level of their representation in the population. This statistic should have set off alarm bells long ago. We simply cannot understand how this is not a top priority for your agency.

Yet for many years, the FCC has failed in its responsibility to examine or address the impact of market consolidation on communities of color and broadcasters of color. The Commission has never even managed to conduct an accurate count of its own data on the race and gender characteristics of licensees to determine the true number of women and minority owners. Economists hired this year by the Commission to study the problem were unable to do so because the data provided to them was unusable. They wrote: "The data currently being collected by the FCC is extremely crude and subject to a large enough degree of measurement error to render it essentially useless for any serious analysis." Without this information, it is impossible to have an adequate understanding of how different policies governing media ownership in general would impact minority ownership specifically.

We call upon the FCC to elevate its commitment to the promotion of minority ownership. The Commission should create a task force on the issue which would, at the very least, conduct the simple steps that the agency has inexplicably failed to accomplish to date. First, the task force should ensure that an accurate accounting of the FCC's data is conducted on the actual number of minority and female broadcast station owners. Second, the task force should perform an analysis on this accurate data set to determine the likely impact of policies which permit further media consolidation, policies which tighten ownership limits, and policies which may offer incentives for expanding minority ownership. Only when the work of this task force is completed should the FCC move forward with any changes to the rules governing media ownership. Only when it is well armed with the facts and analysis provided by this task force can the Commission expect to determine the appropriate policies which will further the goal of increasing minority broadcast ownership.

The legacy of race and gender discrimination in the broadcast industry is a disgraceful reality in America today. It is not a problem that will be solved quickly or easily. But we must take the first step by truly understanding the nature and scope of our present crisis. History will not excuse ignorance as a justification for policies that further depress the level of minority ownership. We ask that the Commission take adequate steps to ensure that it makes the right choices to reach a long overdue justice on the issue of minority ownership in the broadcast media.

Most sincerely,

Rainbow PUSH
National Hispanic Media Coalition
National Council of La Raza
Asian American Justice Center
Hip Hop Caucus
National Congress of Black Women
Native Public Media
National Institute for Latino Policy
Urban League
Industry Ears
League of United Latin American Citizens
Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund
National Association of Hispanic Journalists
Independent Spanish Broadcasters Association
Black Leadership Forum
Cuban American National Council
Latino Literacy Now
National Association of Hispanic Publications
National Association of Latino Independent Producers
Latino Gerontological Center
National Coalition on Black Civic Participation

Comments | Category: Media consolidation |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

November 2, 2007 4:28 PM

Seattle hearing reaction

Posted by Ryan Blethen

The FCC has clearly decided go through the legal motions of hearing the public's concerns about media ownership issue. If the commission was acting in the public's interest it would not have given only four business days notice for next Friday's hearing on media ownership.

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin is responsible for picking when and where the commission's hearings take place. His actions during the past few weeks demonstrate that he wants to fast track changes to media ownership. He gave only five business days notice for the commission's last localism hearing, which took place on Halloween. Martin has done the same thing with the Seattle hearing, which is the FCC's last of six hearings on media ownership. Martin wants a vote on media ownership rules by Dec. 18.

The short notice is a disservice to the public. How can the commissioners possibly distill the mountain of public testimony from the hearings, and digest studies about media ownership by Dec. 18? They cannot.

Unfortunately, Martin probably has the votes to loosen media ownership rules to allow more concentration. Three of the FCC's commissioners, including Martin, are Republicans. Martin voted with the former chairman, Michael Powell, in 2003 to allow a company to own a newspaper, eight radio stations, a television station, and an Internet Service Provider in the same market.

Jonathan Adelstein and Michael Copps, the two Democrats on the FCC, are opposed to freeing corporations from the current constraints. Hopefully Congress and the courts feel the same as Copps and Adelstein.

The reaction to today's announcement has been swift from the media reform crowd, and politicians.

Josh Silver, executive director of Free Press, summed up what most people who follow this issue felt about the shotgun hearing.

On late Friday afternoon, Chairman Martin announced the last so-called hearing on media ownership for just one week from today -- next Friday in Seattle. This is another slap in the face to the American public. Chairman Kevin Martin's determination to ignore millions of concerned citizens, Congress and simple fairness is outrageous. It is now crystal clear that Chairman Martin could care less about what happens to our local media. This whole process has been a charade.

Two of our state's delegation were quick to send out press releases denouncing the timing of the hearing. Sen. Maria Cantwell deals with media issues on the Senate Commerce Committee, and has been a strong voice against media concentration. Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Bainbridge Island, serves on the House Commerce Committee. He too has been working on media issues. Here is the joint letter they sent to Martin's office:

Dear Chairman Martin:

We are pleased to read reports that your office has selected Seattle as the location for the Commission's sixth public hearing on media ownership, although we are troubled by the speed at which you are attempting to complete the proceeding. We urge you to give at least four weeks advance notice before the Seattle hearing, in order to allow the public time to arrange plans to attend and prepare testimony.

At the Commission's last public hearing on its localism proceeding held earlier this week, it was evident that your last-minute announcement of the hearing on October 24, 2007 effectively barred many people from participating, and ran counter to the shared objective of soliciting broad public input.

Our offices have learned that there is significant interest in this hearing not only in Seattle, but regionally across Washington, and in Oregon, Idaho and Alaska. Individuals traveling from these areas, as well as working people and those with family or health care obligations, need reasonable advance notice in order to participate.

We appreciate your consideration in this matter and look forward to joining you at the media ownership hearing.

Sincerely,

Senator Maria Cantwell, Congressman Jay Inslee

I want to hear what readers have to say about the Seattle hearing. Your comments will be posted here at Daily Democracy.

Comments | Category: Media consolidation |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

November 2, 2007 2:18 PM

Seattle hearing

Posted by Ryan Blethen

The Federal Communications Commission has scheduled a media consolidation hearing in Seattle on Nov. 9. The hearing - which will be from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. at Town Hall, 1119 Eight Avenue - is the last of six FCC media consolidation hearings.

Comments | Category: Media consolidation |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

November 1, 2007 9:14 AM

Fair and Confused, Murdoch and the FCC

Posted by Ryan Blethen

There is a story and op/ed in today's Seattle Times worth reading. The story found here is about Wednesday's Federal Communications Commission's localism hearing. The op/ed found here is part of the Democracy Papers and was penned by Peter Hart. He writes about News Corporation's new business channel. Hart works for FAIR (Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting) and is the author of "The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly."

Both are good pieces. The localism story captures the disorder of the FCC, and its rush to try and change media ownership rules before the end of the year. I believe Hart is going to be proven right about the type of business reporting that will come from a FOX business channel.

Comments | Category: Media consolidation , The press |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

October 31, 2007 3:22 PM

Life for LPFM

Posted by Ryan Blethen

The U.S. Senate Commerce Committee passed the Local Radio Community Act of 2007 on Tuesday. The legislation, sponsored by Maria Cantwell, D-Washington, would help low-power FM (LPFM) grow. The short version is that the FCC would have to change its rules to get rid of third-adjacent channel minimum distance separation between LPFM stations and existing stations. The bill also address licensing issues that have worked against LPFM stations.

Hopefully the support of the Commerce Committee is replicated in a vote of the full Senate.

A copy of the bill can be found here.

Comments | Category: Media consolidation |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

October 31, 2007 1:03 PM

Watch the Halloween hearing

Posted by Ryan Blethen

You can watch today's FCC localism hearing here on the Web if you were not able to make it to Washington, D.C. on five days notice. The localism hearing was tagged onto the end of a regularly scheduled FCC meeting. Fast forward to the 58 minute mark for the localism hearing.

If you did make it. Drop me a line about the happenings.

Comments | Category: Media consolidation |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

October 29, 2007 3:39 PM

Halloween hearing panel

Posted by Ryan Blethen

The Federal Communications Commission has announced the panel for the Halloween localism hearing.

Click here to read the press release. There are some strong panelist on the side of media reform. The hearing will be worth attending if you are in the Washington, D.C. area. Drop me a note about the hearing if you go. I will post some here at Daily Democracy.

There is still no word on the media ownership hearing that was proposed for Friday in Seattle. Highly doubtful it will happen, at least not on Nov. 2.

Comments | Category: Media consolidation |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

October 29, 2007 11:39 AM

Lunchtime fun

Posted by Ryan Blethen

StopBigMedia has a fun little game on its Web site called Whack-a-Murdoch. Not only is it a perfect way to blow off a little steam with a mallet, it shows the obscene number of media outlets owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation.

Comments | Category: Media consolidation |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

October 26, 2007 4:52 PM

The FCC and News Corporation

Posted by Ryan Blethen

Federal Communications Commissioner Michael Copps is pressuring Chairman Kevin Martin to scrutinize News Corporation's purchase of Dow Jones. In a letter to Martin, Copps points to the incredible influence Rupert Murdoch's company will have on New York City and the nation.

If approved, this transaction would leave News Corp. in control of a Big Four broadcast network and two of the area's most popular television stations and two of its most popular newspapers.

Both aspects of this transaction are unprecedented in the history of the FCC and, indeed, of the United States.

The FCC should consider whether a national cross-ownership ban should be slapped on News Corporation, and any other company that wants to over extend its reach. In addition to the many outlets Copps listed above, Murdoch is about to launch a nationwide financial network on cable.

It is frightening that one man can be allowed that much control in a democracy. America will suffer if the FCC sights out of date precedent and stands aside as Murdoch takes control of Dow Jones, and its prize possession, the Wall Street Journal.

Comments | Category: Media consolidation |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

October 26, 2007 2:39 PM

Wildfire reporters

Posted by Ryan Blethen

NPR had an inspiring story this morning about an affiliate station in San Diego and how it has been reporting on the wildfires. KPBS in San Diego is no Clear Channel in Minot, N.D.

A brief history: Minot has become the poster city for how media consolidation has left many communities helpless during an emergency. In 2002 a train derailed releasing a poisonous cloud that drifted to Minot. The city's fire department could not get through to Minot's radio stations. All six local radio stations were owned by Clear Channel. Nobody was at the stations because the canned broadcasts did not require bodies in the studio. One person died, and nearly a thousand were injured.

The coverage by one local radio station has been the opposite of Minot. The NPR story points out that KPBS is pretty much the only station left doing local news in San Diego. Sounds familiar. When KPBS lost their signal for a day they asked, and were allowed, to transmit through a commercial radio station. A commendable act for the corporate station. Too bad it did not have its own team of journalists to inform listeners of what was happening. KPBS is back on the air and doing amazing things. Reporting you can only get from a station that has a focus on journalism and its community.

It is worth checking out KPBS.org to see all the ways they are helping San Diego's displaced and frightened populace. The staff has produced a map using Google's My Map to show what is happening in the region. The station is also using a social networking site to send updates through text messages.

KPBS is a prime example of why independence is important for radio, and for listeners. It also exemplifies why the Internet is a vital component for radio.

Comments | Category: Media consolidation , The press |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

October 26, 2007 11:10 AM

Radio's future

Posted by Ryan Blethen

In my regular column today I write about radio. The news peg was a Wednesday hearing on the future of radio held by the U.S. Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation committee.

The committee, which includes senators from both parties concerned about media consolidation such as Democrats Maria Cantwell and Byron Dorgan and Republicans Trent Lott and Olympia Snowe, heard testimony from independent record label owners, and musicians. They also heard from a broadcaster who supports consolidation.

According to Radio World Newspaper the testimony of the independents had an impact. Commerce Chairman Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, said the committee needs to examine the diversity of media ownership, and consolidation.

It is not surprising that the committee would delve more into media ownership - it is their job. But it is encouraging that senators from both parties have become very vocal on the topic, especially at a time when the Federal Communications Commission is trying to ram bad public policy into law before year end.

For more about Wednesday's hearing go to the Commerce Committee's Web site. Another good source for information about Internet radio, and media consolidation is the Future of Music Coalition, and the Rock the Net campaign.

Comments | Category: Media consolidation , The press |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

October 25, 2007 4:45 PM

Halloween Hearing

Posted by Ryan Blethen

The announcement yesterday evening that the Federal Communications Commission will hold its sixth localism hearing Wednesday is disappointing. Not only because the public was given barely a weeks notice, but also because the hearing will take place after a regularly schedule commission meeting.

The localism hearings give commissioners a chance to hear how broadcasters are serving their communities. I wrote a column from one these hearings in Portland, Maine. What was clear from the extensive public testimony was that the FCC needs to do more to increase the diversity of ownership of radio and television stations, and enforce and create rules that lessen media concentration.

The FCC does the people it is supposed to serve a disservice by giving such little notice, and attaching the hearing to an already scheduled meeting. These hearings are important and demand time and space to be effective.

The Halloween hearing raises questions about a FCC media ownership hearing in Seattle that might happen Nov. 2. The Seattle and Washington, D.C. hearings were announced by FCC Chairman Kevin Martin during a Senate hearing last week. A Seattle media ownership hearing is welcomed, but nothing is official. I am afraid that Martin will firm up the Nov. 2 date next week in an effort to degrade the hearing.

Comments | Category: Media consolidation |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

October 24, 2007 5:16 PM

Faulty FCC studies

Posted by Ryan Blethen

Studies used by the Federal Communications Commission to bolster the argument for media consolidation have been called into question by a number of consumer groups. The Consumer Federation of America, Consumers Union, and Free Press used FCC data to debunk the regulatory agencies own findings. A press release from the consumer groups said, "The new study dismantles claims that removing the ban on newspaper/broadcast cross-ownership would increase local news. In reality, cross-ownership results in a net loss in the amount of local news produced across local broadcast markets."

The release of the study was poorly timed for FCC Chairman Kevin Martin. It came out during a Congressional hearing last week that he wants the FCC to vote on media ownership rules by Dec. 18. Evidence contrary to the data Martin might use to jettison cross-ownership rules should give the other FCC commissioners, and Congress pause.

I have printed out the report and will be back with more on this topic.

Comments | Category: Media consolidation |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

Recent entries

Jun 26, 08 - 12:52 PM
Say no to immunity

Jun 21, 08 - 08:14 AM
Having it both ways

Jun 17, 08 - 09:40 AM
Are profits killing news?

Jun 11, 08 - 02:38 PM
Panel reflections

Jun 7, 08 - 01:56 PM
Newspapers: Not dead yet?

Advertising

Marketplace

Donate food for LeMay discount; tips to prep car for winternew
LeMay visitors can donate food to get a museum discount Throughout November, LeMay — America's Car Museum will offer a discount to those who don...
Post a comment

Advertising

Advertising

Categories
Calendar

February

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
Browse the archives

July 2008

June 2008

May 2008

April 2008

March 2008

February 2008

Blogroll