Who Owns the News?

Dear Readers,

Please read the following attached document extracted from the Consumers Union web site. The link is the following: http://www.consumersunion.org/telecom/owns_news.htm

Mahbubul Karim (Sohel)
May 28, 2003

If the federal government weakens the rules for media ownership, a few, powerful media companies could gain greater influence over the news

Americans depend on mass media -- such as television, newspapers, and radio -- to learn about the news, understand issues, and make informed political choices.

The United States has certain rules for owning American media. These rules put limits on how many media outlets a company can own. Media ownership rules are designed to ensure that one company does not have too much control over the media content available in any community.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is currently reviewing the rules for media ownership. The FCC may decide to relax or eliminate the rules this year. For instance, the FCC is considering whether to ease the limits on how many TV stations and radio stations a company can own in a market, as well as remove the ban on one company owning a daily newspaper and local television station in the same market.

If the FCC relaxes the rules for media ownership, one company in a community would be able to own the local newspaper, several TV and radio stations, and the cable TV system. There would be fewer owners of networks, stations, and newspapers nationwide. The public's ability to have open, informed discussion with a wide variety of viewpoints would be compromised. It would likely result in higher costs for businesses that advertise in local media, and those costs would likely be passed onto consumers.

Consumers Union believes that media ownership rules are essential to a healthy democracy. They help make sure that the public receives a broad range of contrasting perspectives from the media, not just the opinions of a handful of media conglomerates. The rules protect Americans' First Amendment rights to a diverse marketplace of ideas. The stakes for consumers, citizens, and the nation are enormous.

The FCC is expected to make a final decision about relaxing media rules as early as spring 2003. Your opinion is very important:

We encourage you to contact your members of Congress and urge them to tell the FCC to preserve its traditional media ownership rules. Click here to send a letter to your lawmakers in Congress.

You can also contact the FCC directly at http://www.fcc.gov/ownership/Welcome.html. The site offers instructions for filing public comments with the FCC. When you visit the site, the simplest way to send your comments is to click on the phrase "go to ECFS" and scroll down to the bottom of the page where you will find the heading "Send a Brief Comment to FCC."

Below are reading materials about media ownership, including an in-depth story by USA Today that provides an excellent overview of this important issue:

Consumers Union Calls on Congress to Protect Local Ownership of the Media (HR 2052 and S 1046)
letters (Tue May 13 2003)

Nearly 300 Leading Academics Decry FCC Methodology for Lifting Ownership Safeguards
press release (Thur May 01 2003) - from the Center for Digital Democracy

Artist Groups Insist Public Voices Be Heard On Proposed Media Ownership Rule Changes
press release (Wed Apr 30 2003)

Letter to the FCC Regarding Media Ownership
letter (Wed Apr 30 2003)

Letter to the Senate from CU and Center for Creative Community Regarding Media Ownership
letter (Thur Apr 10 2003)

Two Important Developments In Debate Over The FCC's Media Ownership Review: Bipartisan Group Of Key Senators Ask FCC For Full Disclosure Before Revising Media Rules and...
press release (Thur Apr 10 2003)

Letter from the US Small Business Administration to the FCC Regarding Review of the Commission's Broadcast Ownership Rules
letter (Wed Apr 9 2003)

Letter from Members of the Senate Commerce Committee to the FCC Regarding Media Ownership
letter (Wed Apr 9 2003)

USA TODAY, "Relaxing rules raises concerns about diverse media voices," by David Lieberman, January 16, 2003. Reprinted with permission.

GOP Senators Express Concerns About FCC Review Of Media Ownership Rules
press release (Wed Mar 19 2003)

Consumer Groups Question FCC's Powell On Media Diversity Index
press release (Tue Mar 11 2003)

Loss Of Diversity, Localism And Independent Voices Harms The Public Interest: Some Recent Examples
report (Tue Mar 11 2003)

Consumer, Public Interest Groups Urge FCC To Preserve Media Ownership Rules
press release (Mon Feb 03 2003)

Reply Comments of CFA and CU Media Access Project
comments (PDF format) (Mon Feb 03 2003)

Comments of Consumer Federation of America Consumers Union Center for Digital Democracy Media Access Project
comments (Fri Jan 03 2003)

Maintaining Media Ownership Limits Critical To Preserve Access To Quality News And Information
press release (Fri Jan 03 2003)

Comments Filed at the FCC Regarding FCC Media Ownership Rules on Behalf of CU, CFA Center for Digital Democracy, and Media Access Project
executive summary (Thu Jan 02 2003)

Letter to FCC Regarding Media Ownership Proceedings
letter (Wed Oct 23 2002)

CU Statement on FCC Decision to Consolidate Review of Broadcast Media Ownership Rules
press release (Mon Jun 17 2002)

Letter to FCC Regarding Media Ownership Rules
letter (Tue Jun 04 2002)

Public Interest Groups Ask FCC to Preserve Cross-Ownership Rules
press release (Fri Feb 15 2002)

Consumer, Citizen Groups Ask FCC To Reimpose Federal Ownership Limits On Cable TV Ownership
press release (Tue Jan 08 2002)

Court Decision To Overturn FCC Cable TV Limits is Devastating Blow To Consumers
press release (Fri Mar 02 2001)