New Ownership Rules Threaten Diversity

Posted on December 18, 2007 - 10:38pm.

New Ownership Rules Threaten Diversity,
Necessitate Clearer Public Interest Obligations

Acting on a remand by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Prometheus Radio Project, et al. v. FCC., 373 F.3d 372 (2004), the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) majority today decided to lift the ban on common ownership of newspapers and broadcast outlets in the same local communities. The following comments can be attributed to Charles Benton, Chairman and CEO of the Benton Foundation and member of the FCC’s Consumer Advisory Committee:

The Commission missed the mark today, both in its decision and how it reached it. In evidence the Benton Foundation and many others around the country delivered to the FCC over the past 18 months demonstrate, the diversity of media ownership in the US is a disgrace. The FCC actions today will exacerbate this problem.

Media ownership concentration in Chicago has resulted in less media outlets and less reporters covering our community. The FCC’s decision today will exacerbate this problem.

Moreover, the FCC’s process and decision ignored the recommendations of its Consumer Advisory Committee which raised consumers’ concerns about localism, diversity and competition.

Finally, the change to media ownership rules adopted today offer opportunities for new owners of US television stations. Unleashing a wave of television ownership deals, the FCC must define now what will be expected of these new owners. The FCC must issue clear guidelines to ensure that broadcasters adhere to the law and serve the local educational, informational, civic, minority, disability and security needs of the children and adults in the communities that TV stations are licensed to serve. To move ahead on allowing new companies to become owners of TV stations without first defining their public interest responsibilities is a bad deal for local communities.

Charles Benton
Benton Foundation
1560 Sherman Ave
Evanston, IL 60201
847.328.3046 (f)

( categories: FCC Media Ownership )