Three days from now the FCC is expected in a series of 3-2 votes to approve changes to media ownership rules allowing further consolidation. Where radio saw its near-destruction as a useful information source following the Telecom Act’s passage and the consolidation that followed, we have not learned from this mistake, and now much of the same damage will be done to other media outlets.
If you’re inclined to watch the mess as it unfolds, the FCC streams video of its meetings online. I hope to have choice cuts of each Commissioner’s comments available for download in MP3 format later in the day on Monday.
As we stand on the eve of what is likely to be a big step backward in the fight for media democracy, it’s important not to give up hope, especially when the evidence continues to mount that this fight was long rigged in favor of corporate interests. It was heartening to see some evidence this week – from the corporate media itself – that paints a brighter view of the future. Continue reading “Perceptions of Reality on the Eve of Disaster”
It’s enough to make you puke: the FCC has released its agenda for the one and only “official public hearing” it will hold on its pending revisions to media ownership rules. Check it out in text (page 1, page 2) or .PDF (page 1, page 2) format.
After the corporate media belatedly began covering the issue (publishing its first stories on the weekend after the written public comment period officially closed), and after an outburst of concern from Congress over the FCC’s foregone conclusions (bigger media is better), FCC Chairman Michael Powell responded like the savvy politician he is. In a symbolic display of civic engagement he agreed to convene the Commission for one “public hearing” in Richmond, Virginia – a whopping 100 miles from Washington, D.C. Continue reading “FCC Gives Public A Last-Minute Listen? Don't Believe the Hype”
Yesterday the Senate Commerce Committee held a hearing concerning competition in the telecommunications industries. All five members of the FCC were present and all were quizzed by the Senators on various issues, most of which dealt with the series of regulatory reviews curently underway at the agency.
The FCC’s review of media ownership reviews wasn’t the hottest topic of the hearing, but the subject did arise. During those brief moments some choice quotes were uttered.
The best came from FCC Chairman Michael Powell, who has clearly felt the sting from critics who decry his zeal for turning over regulatory functions to marketplace forces. In 1998, with the dot-com bubble in full bloom and radio consolidation in full swing, then-junior Commissioner Powell compared the idea of regulation in the public interest to modern art: “people see in it what they want to see. That may be a fine quality for art, but it is a bit of a problem when that quality exists in a legal standard.” Continue reading “FCC Grilled on the Hill: Going Through the Motions”
Note: All audio is in 48kbps/44KHz mono MP3 format.
Speakers are listed in the order they appeared.
W. Kenneth Ferree – Chief, FCC Media Bureau (1:54, 673K)
Short and to the point, Ferree set up the charade by brandishing a logbook of some of the first radio licenses the FCC ever issued.
Notable quotes: Continue reading “FCC Adopts IBOC-DAB”
This week, the FCC announced a remedial window for LPFM applicants who applied for a license before Congress gutted the plan and disqualified many who’d already applied. These applicants were shafted when the channels that they applied for, which were initially considered open by the FCC’s initial LPFM rule, were suddenly declared off-limits by Congressional fiat. For more than a year now, these applicants have been in a sort of limbo, unable to amend their applications to account for the lower number of open frequencies.
A five-day window for those applicants will open in late October – but many have been permanently disqualified from an LPFM license thanks to the NAB/NPR shenanigans in Congress. Some of those who had applied have gone on the air anyway, and don’t have much interest in trying to re-engage the FCC in the licensing process. Even so, it’s a nice gesture on the FCC’s part. Continue reading “Screwed LPFM Applicants to get Second Chance”
The FCC’s Spectrum Policy Task Force has just wrapped up a series of four “workshops” on how best the agency can divvy up our electromagnetic spectrum.
In remarks at the closing workshop (held Aug. 9), FCC Chairman Michael Powell outlined four goals he wants to see the FCC work toward when it comes to managing spectrum. Goal #2 is the one that almost made me lose my lunch: Continue reading “Michael Powell Wants Regulatory Slaughter, New Microradio Documentary in the Works, Interesting Uses for LPFM”
Powell’s Master Plan
There’s been little talk of the direction newly-anointed FCC chairman Michael Powell plans to take the agency, outside the mouthing of various platitudes he made following his nomination, where he pledged to make the FCC even more friendly to big business interests in Washington.
Powell has finally unveiled a little more about his strategic plan for the FCC: he presented an outline of it in late May as testimony to a Congressional committee chewing over the FCC’s latest budget request.
From the testimony, it’s clear that Powell is planning on keeping his mitts off the “public interest'” side of the agency’s mission, choosing to focus almost exclusively on providing the best service he can to his “customers” – media corporations. Continue reading “FCC: Still a Paper Tiger”
While the Federal Communications Commission continues to slowly move ahead with plans to roll out new low power FM (LPFM) stations, its Chairman is sending mixed messages about the fledgling service’s future.
So far, 25 LPFM applicants have received construction permits for their stations. These permits allow the applicants to build their actual facilities and prepare for broadcasting, but they still require an official license from the FCC before they can flip the switch on regular programming.
The FCC will also complete its first round of application-processing in June, when it accepts LPFM station proposals from the 20 remaining U.S. states and territories who haven’t had a chance to file yet. Continue reading “A Slow Demise?”
There are some big changes on the horizon for the Federal Communications Commission. The changes look ominously negative, but the agency’s general inattentiveness to the renewed insurgence of unlicensed broadcasting can only help the free radio movement as a whole.
The first big change is a personnel shift occurring at the very top of the FCC: three of the five Commissioners have either resigned or are on their way out and president Bush II has formally announced his picks to fill the slots.
The appointments will give Republicans a working 3-2 majority on the Commission. Pending confirmation by the U.S. Senate, a Bush-league FCC is expected to continue the wholesale cell of the public airwaves to the highest bidder; Chairman Michael Powell has already all but declared regulation a dirty word, preferring to let “market forces” (read: corporate interests) rule the roost and direct the construction of tomorrow’s media environment. Continue reading “FCC: New Faces, More Money”
After several months of delay, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has taken another step forward in implementing its plan for new low power FM (LPFM) radio stations.
FCC staff have finished the official revisions to the LPFM plan mandated by Congressional action last year. More restrictive rules are now in place that put the majority of the American population out of reach of new LPFM station signals, and radio pirates of any kind are now permanently banned from participating in the new service. Continue reading “LPFM Lurches Forward”