57 Channels and Nothing On


| May 30, 2003


On June 2 the Federal Communications Commission will rule on whether to relax current media ownership rules. Under the leadership of Michael Powell, the FCC appears determined to grant the TV and radio broadcast industries their dearest wishes, paving the way for even greater consolidation in a media market already dominated by a handful of major players. ?Federal Communications Commission officials have been showered with nearly $2.8 million in travel and entertainment?over the past eight years, most of it from the telecommunications and broadcast industries the agency regulates,? the Center for Public Integrity reports, revealing the close relationship between the industries and the FCC?the commission established to defend the public interest.

Disparate organizations from both the right and left, such as the National Rifle Association, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Code Pink find themselves on the same side opposing the new ruling, which would make it possible for a single media monopoly to control virtually all information disseminated in a given market?or multiple markets. It?s a no-brainer that abuses of power could easily occur when information provided to voters is controlled by an industry that is demonstrably in bed with its governmental counterpart.

In response, the Center for Public Integrity has launched a repository of information on its website, an ?unprecedented examination of the telecommunications industry, the centerpiece of which is a first-of-its-kind, 65,000 record, searchable database containing ownership information on virtually every radio station, television station, cable television system and telephone company in America.? With a few keystrokes, this user friendly database, culled through months of painstaking data mining of FCC records and other sources, yields a colorful pie chart and listing of telephone, cable, TV and radio station owners within a 40-mile radius of any zip code or city.

But there?s more. You?ll find a listing of the top holding companies for radio TV, phone, cable and satellite companies; the six broadcast ownership rules up for review; and contact information for members of the House and Senate Committees that oversee the FCC, as well as the five FCC Commissioners.
?Anne Geske

Go there>>Center for Public Integrity?s broadcast ownership database

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