Civil rights groups want FCC to put brakes on dereg


WatchdogsA dozen organizations have teamed to send a letter to FCC Chair Julius Genachowski and the other four commissioners saying that the burden of proof is on the FCC to show that any actions it takes will not hurt diversity of media ownership. They say no deregulation of any kind should take place until their impact on diversity is fully understood.

“As the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has directed, the Commission must first be able to demonstrate that any changes to the ownership rules promote diversity of ownership before it can take action on media ownership,” states the letter. :While the ownership data released on November 14 was the first comprehensive attempt to capture ownership rates across all classes of licensees, the accompanying report does not include any synthesis of the data, analysis of trends, discussion of causation, or forecasts. Rigorous public review is necessary to consider the value and import of this new information. Therefore, any action at this time on the media ownership rules is premature.”

They applauded the release of in-depth statistics on ownership by women and minority groups, but expressed astonishment that at the same time the FCC let out word that it was considering loosening some of the rules without allowing any time for study of the stats.

They stated, “As organizations that represent women and people of color, we would like a full opportunity to understand, analyze, and offer comment not only on the ownership data, but on the Commission’s analysis in support of relaxation of ownership rules—before the Commission takes action on the proposed order.”

The letter concludes, “While the completion of the 2010 Quadrennial Review is long overdue, the passage of time is no excuse to rush to completion of a flawed decision. Relaxing these rules will eliminate future opportunities for participation in this marketplace by women and people of color that cannot be recovered by subsequent changes. We strongly urge you to move with deliberation and seek further comment before taking action.”

Signatory groups include:
American Civil Liberties Union
Asian American Justice Center, member of Asian American Center for Advancing Justice
Common Cause
Communications Workers of America
The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
National Council of La Raza
National Hispanic Media Coalition
National Organization for Women
National Urban League
United Church of Christ, Office of Communication, Inc.