Undermining Effective Reporting: New FCC Proposals

| May 10, 2002 Issue

M ajor media industries--claiming to be suffering from the economic effects of 9/11--have successfully appealed to the Federal Communications Commission to reconsider several major directives that encourage media diversity. Jeffrey Chester, writing in Media Alliance , warns that such moves threaten to eliminate even more independent analysis of events, and at a time when they are very much needed. Two of the policies are particularly consequential: One is a 25-year-old regulation that prohibits one company's ownership of a TV station and newspaper in the same community, a rule that secures diversity of opinion in that community; the second rule limits the size and control of a single cable company. If these proposals go through, Chester says, we will be relying on even fewer sources for information. "Twenty years ago, the FCC began its first major deregulatory thrust while under the leadership of Mark Fowler," Chester writes. "Fowler terminated many of the FCC's public interest policies, suggesting that TV be viewed as a 'toaster with pictures,' a simple household appliance requiring little oversight." Though we may take the media a little more seriously these days, Chester says that we will nonetheless suffer similar consequences, and then some.
--Julie Madsen
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