Wednesday, May 14, 2003

Raising Concerns About Diverse Media Voices
An earthquake may soon jolt the media landscape in many communities as a result of a major debate raging at the Federal Communications Commission.

Commissioners intend to decide this spring whether to relax or ax a basket of decades-old media ownership rules intended to provide multiple owners and voices in a market. The rules say who can (and can't) own TV and radio stations and broadcast networks -- as well as how many a company can own in total and in a market, how much of the country it can serve and whether it can own other media voices, such as a newspaper, in a market.

An FCC easing could set off a dealmaking stampede -- and give fewer big owners enormous influence over a community's politics and economy.

"The rules go to the heart and soul of what our media system is all about," Commissioner Michael Copps says. "How much localism and regional creativity will we be able to get? And it goes to the nature of political dialogue and the multiplicity of voices. I don't think there's anything as important that the FCC will consider this year."

An excellent analysis from the USA Today. Highly recommended.