Still Another Stupid Idea

You know what really bothers me about this?

The Federal Communications Commission has circulated an ambitious plan to relax the decades-old media ownership rules, including repealing a rule that forbids a company to own both a newspaper and a television or radio station in the same city.

Kevin J. Martin, chairman of the commission, wants to repeal the rule in the next two months -- a plan that, if successful, would be a big victory for some executives of media conglomerates.

Among them are Samuel Zell, the Chicago investor who is seeking to complete a buyout of the Tribune Company, and Rupert Murdoch, who has lobbied against the rule for years so that he can continue controlling both The New York Post and a Fox television station in New York.

In addition to my concerns about more media consolidation, it's the fact that they are asking for nothing in return: no commitment for a certain amount of free air time for political campaigns, no commitment for anything from the broadcasters. This after they received billions of dollars of exclusive access to digital spectrum (which belongs to the public) for free and after they have consistently delayed the commitment to surrender their analog spectrum, they want another gift.

Thank God for Byron Dorgan:

"This is a big deal because we have way too much concentration of
media ownership in the United States," Senator Byron L. Dorgan,Democrat of North Dakota, said at a hearing on Wednesday called to examine the digital transition of the television industry.

"If the chairman intends to do something by the end of the year," Mr. Dorgan added, his voice rising, "then there will be a firestorm of
protest and I'm going to be carrying the wood."

I truly care less about Sam Zell and Rupert Murdoch's business interests. The public is getting shafted and it's time it stopped.

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