57 Channels and Nothing On

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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