Money

FCC May Allow Corporations to Buy Up More Media Companies

| by Michael Allen

The FCC is considering a change to the rules that limit corporations from owning radio, television stations and newspapers in the same area.

Under the proposed rules, one corporation could own a town's ISP, all the newspapers, up to 2 TV stations and up to 8 radio stations, reports dslreports.com.

The upcoming FCC vote, which will be behind closed doors, is justified by the FCC as a way to help large struggling newspapers such as the Chicago Tribune, which have seen their circulation numbers drop and have failed to adapt to the web.

The large newspapers can only survive if they get funds from larger corporations, which are currently prevented from buying them. However, smaller newspapers are not scheduled to get any help from the FCC.

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Consumer advocates and former FCC staffers have slammed this weakening of rules, claiming that it will limit the quality and diversity of information a town receives.

The consumer group 'Free Press' has started a petition to stop the FCC's plan.

Craig Aaron, of Free Press, told Bill Moyers on PBS: "Barack Obama as a senator was one of the leading voices against the exact same rules that his FCC chairman is pushing forward now. He wrote op-eds, he co-sponsored legislation to throw out these exact same rules, legislation that passed in the Senate. And yet, his own FCC chairman, his appointee, is suddenly in a huge rush to get this deal done, and if these reports are to be believed, they’re going to try and do this by Christmas, before the end of the year."

Former FCC Commissioner Michael Copps slammed the FCC's decision in a recent blog post: "The public sector is at least equally culpable because government—especially the FCC where I served for more than a decade—blessed just about every media merger and acquisition that came before it."

"Then it proceeded, over the better part of a generation, to eviscerate almost all of the specific public interest guidelines that had been put in place over many years to ensure that the people’s airwaves actually serve the people."