Last week the FCC promulgated a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that would allow for more media consolidation. Among many changes contemplated, the most significant would actively encourage the merger of print and broadcast media companies. The proposal also leaves the door open to loosening restrictions on the number of radio and television stations a single company can own in any given market.
These propositions sound awfully familiar, as they contain ideas floated by Democratic Chairman Julius Genachowski‘s two Republican predecessors, Kevin Martin and Michael Powell. Continue reading “FCC Bipartisanly Bad on Media Ownership”
Sometimes politicians couch the truth in humor. This typically happens when they converge for one of their pat-on-the-back dinners, where they’re surrounded by like-minded friends. Events like the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner come to mind.
In the world of communications policymaking, the hubris-fest happens during the annual dinner of the Federal Communications Bar Association – the cadre of specialized lawyers who grease the Federal Communications Commission’s wheels to keep their clients happy. Headlining this year’s dinner was FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, who, by all reports, was quite a crowd-pleaser.
Check some of his jokes, as reported by Broadcasting & Cable: Continue reading “Kevin Martin, Unfunnyman”
FCC Commissioners Jonathan Adelstein and Michael Copps were in Seattle on November 30th to take more public testimony on the agency’s ongoing media ownership rules review. Reclaim the Media, packed the main auditorium of the Seattle Public Library and provided the Commissioners with four hours’ worth of testimony.
Just two weeks before the FCC’s visit, RtM also organized the Northwest Community Radio Summit, which featured three days of workshops on a wide range of issues. One of those was on “The Case for Free Radio in the 21st Century” (1:00:34, 10.4 MB), hosted by members of the Free Radio Olympia collective. It provided a short overview of the history of unlicensed broadcasting and some of the more popular rationales for why it’s still advantageous to be a radio pirate in a post-LPFM world. Continue reading “Microradio, Today and Tomorrow”
During the National Conference for Media Reform I was lucky enough to sit down and throw a few questions at FCC Commissioner Michael Copps in formal interview-style (24:52, 11.4 MB), courtesy of Free Speech TV producer Lee Buric and John Grebe (Sounds of Dissent). As you can hear, we basically took turns in the chair.
The interruption of Grebe’s line by Jordan Goldberg, Copps’ senior legal advisor, kind of threw things off and made my own lines of inquiry a bit more circumspect (IBOC, microradio, and the future of the Telecom Act). Grebe was trying to get at the translator speculation/trafficking controversy. I felt like Copps played an adroit politician, in that he didn’t give up any substantive information. Continue reading “Work Noise”
I cannot claim to have participated much directly in the National Conference for Media Reform, given that I was paid to observe: busy recording, editing, and uploading stuff as the radio-centric house organ of sponsor Free Press. All of the conference audio and video is now up on their server and should be publicly available within the next few days. I expect Be the Media! blog traffic will continue to trickle in for a while as well.
Personally speaking, the best parts of the conference were not even related to the event itself. Thursday night’s benefit party for KDHX at the City Museum blew minds. Think of a funhouse for adults, with live bands and beer: it puts the vaunted Arch to shame. Then there were all of the friends both old and new who’d come into town for the weekend. The ratio of extracurricular fun to sleep that was taking place should have killed me (14 hours of crash time upon return home helped). Finally, I had the chance to tag-team (with Free Speech TV and Sounds of Dissent) an interview with FCC Commissioner Michael Copps (audio forthcoming), who artfully mostly-deflected questions on microradio, IBOC, and other sundry subjects. Watching politician-sweat break out up close can be fun! Continue reading “The St. Louis Experience”
Mikey Powell’s giving up the ghost (don’t look back, buddy); Kathleen Abernathy may follow; and W. Kenneth Ferree, head of the FCC’s Media Bureau, is also done. Also, Michael Copps’ term expires in the summer. It’s unusual to have such turnover in a short time. Can we expect substantive change in the agency’s direction?
Probably not. The replacements will not be reformists: they’re straight from the farm team that breeds regulators. These being three primary sources: campaign contributors, congressional staffers, and those already in administrative positions. All of the (speculative) candidates for a Commissioner’s post hail from one of these places. Congressional staff are an especially fertile ground, seeing as it sometimes seems easiest for the two major parties to agree on the appointment of folks already within the family, so to speak. Continue reading “Churn at the FCC”
The demonstration of low-power civil disobedience hasn’t even begun yet, but the FCC is now well-warned of WNFC’s existence and plans. Last night organizer Stacie Trescott served on a panel with Commissioners Jonathan Adelstein and Michael Copps at a town hall meeting on the future of media in Dearborn, Michigan.
Trescott’s place on the panel gave her five minutes to talk about the need for the expansion of LPFM – and how the pending proposal to do so won’t help her community.
She pulled no punches: Continue reading “WNFC Meets FCC, Throws Gauntlet”
It took only 90 minutes for the debate; calling the question took less than 15 seconds. And, as expected, the FCC voted along party lines (3-2) to significantly relax the rules restricting media ownership and consolidation, eliminating several of them completely. The agency’s news releases are full of sickening spin, but it does provide a decent overview of the new rules.
The biggest bonanzas appear to affect television ownership, where caps have been greatly relaxed, and cross-ownership of media outlets in all but a few large markets is now permitted. Mediageek’s Paul Riismandel has posted a more specific analysis of the changes to radio ownership rules.
Clear Channel might be stung by these changes but its freshly-endowed freedom to gobble up television stations and newspapers should more than compensate. The Big Ten must be having a collective orgasm over how much their empires will grow as a result of what happened today. Time to begin paying close attention to business news. Continue reading “The Deed is Done: FCC Lifts Most Media Ownership Restrictions”
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”
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”