FCC Gives Public A Last-Minute Listen? Don't Believe the Hype

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”

FCC Grilled on the Hill: Going Through the Motions

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”

Media Coverage of Media Deregulation: Too Little, Too Late

The Pacifica radio network’s flagship program, Democracy Now!, featured a segment this week on the FCC’s current media deregulation crusade. It featured several guests, including whiz-bang media scholar Robert McChesney, Jeff Chester from the Center for Digital Democracy, and FCC Media Bureau chief W. Kenneth Ferree (who’s already scoffed at encouraging more public input on this issue as “an exercise in foot-stomping”).
While these three did the majority of the talking, a couple of other guests got some important words in edgewise. One of them was Mara Einstein, assistant professor of Media Studies at Queens College (CUNY). Einstein wrote one of the 12 studies the FCC released late last year to justify its current effort: hers was “Program Diversity and the Program Selection Process on Broadcast Network Television.” Continue reading “Media Coverage of Media Deregulation: Too Little, Too Late”

FCC Gives Entercom "Bonus" AM Station in Kansas City: A Sign of Things to Come?

In a little-publicized ruling on November 20, The FCC gave Entercom a special waiver involving its expanded AM band radio station in Kansas City. The waiver is disturbing on several levels. But first, some history:
The AM broadcast band used to span from 540 to 1600 kHz. In 1997, the FCC adopted a rulemaking expanding the upper end of the AM band to 1705 kHz. Over the years leading up to this, the FCC had gradually relaxed interference and channel spacing rules for AM stations, leading to lots of interference, especially at night, when some AM stations must reduce power levels or sign off completely. Continue reading “FCC Gives Entercom "Bonus" AM Station in Kansas City: A Sign of Things to Come?”

FCC To Public on Media Review: Screw Your Interest

Last month, a coalition of consumer advocacy, labor and professional performance groups banded together to petition the Federal Communications Commission to extend the time for the public to comment on a massive rulemaking that threatens to let today’s large media conglomerates get even bigger.
The coalition sought an additional three to six months to collect public input on the proposed hyper-consolidation effort and also requested access to the data the FCC used to produce a dozen reports which are (surprise!) mostly in favor of allowing more media consolidation. Continue reading “FCC To Public on Media Review: Screw Your Interest”

Mediageek Busts AP Nut

Paul Riismandel flails the Associated Press for manufacturing news about the state of the radio industry instead of devoting the time and energy to actually write about the real problems at hand.
It would be easy to claim that there’s some nefarious doings afoot to squelch criticism of the corporate media from other corporate media outlets, but this really is a case of a low-IQ reporter stringing together recent related events to construct a theme around which to write a story. Missing the real story completely, however, definitely consigns whoever wrote this turd to the short bus.

FCC Begins Manufacturing Consent for Ownership Rule Changes

There has been a lot of news since the last update; the Schnazz will get you up to speed on post-NAB conference coverage and the FCC’s latest moves to let the media industry get even more incestuous with itself. The Mosquito Fleet feature has also been properly fleshed out.
Lucky for us, the FCC now has a special section on its website devoted to the media ownership rule review now underway. There’s a lot of info there, but one area to examine further is a slew of “studies” the agency commissioned to examine the current media landscape. The studies look at everything from viewpoint diversity between media formats, to advertising rates, to radio formats, and loads more.
It should come as no surprise that the studies are heavily skewed toward economic analyses of the state of the media, with a few token perspectives thrown in from journalistic, cultural, and sociological perspectives. So much for the objective assessment of reality. Continue reading “FCC Begins Manufacturing Consent for Ownership Rule Changes”

ABCNN? Don't Laugh

Well, spank my ass and call me Charlie, the L.A. Times reports today that AOL Time Warner has been in talks with Disney about possibly spinning off the ABC News division and merging it with CNN as a stand-alone company. Apparently this has been a morsel of discourse between the two for about 18 months now.
This isn’t the first time Time Warner has tried to spin off CNN; it apparently danced with CBS for a while before that deal fell through. Continue reading “ABCNN? Don't Laugh”

Screwed LPFM Applicants to get Second Chance

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”

Microradio: Moving Forward

As the government increases its police powers to root out “terrorists,” the microradio movement has been waiting quietly to see what changes there would be on the battlefield of the airwaves. If recent events are any indicator, it seems to be back to “business as usual.”
Enforcement agents with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) have been busy lately, making contact with stations in Virginia, California and Florida during the last three weeks. The terms of engagement do not seem drastically different than they did before 9/11 – visits and letters are still the primary weapons and the feared influx of SWAT-style raids has not materialized.
In fact, of the three most recent FCC actions, only one has resulted in a fine – the rest were seemingly just for intimidation purposes. Continue reading “Microradio: Moving Forward”