The FCC announced late Friday that a hearing on localism would be conducted just one week hence in Seattle, as Chairman Kevin Martin (R) tries to wrap up information gathering and call a vote on new ownership rules before the year is out. The fast pace provoked a cry of indignation from the two Democrats on the Commission, Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein. "A hearing with only five days notice is no nirvana for Seattle and the Pacific Northwest. This smells like mean spirit. Clearly, the rush is on to push media consolidation to a quick and ill-considered vote. It shows there is a preordained outcome. Pressure from the public and their elected representatives is ignored. With such short notice, many people will be shut out. We received notice of the hearing just moments before it was announced. This is outrageous and not how important media policy should be made," the two Commissioners complained. This Friday’s (11/9) localism hearing will be 4-11 pm at Town Hall Seattle in the Great Hall. It is to be the last of six official FCC roadshow hearings, following stops in Los Angeles, Nashville, Harrisburg, PA, Tampa and Chicago.
RBR/TVBR observation: Outrageous? Not really. We already know what is going to be said – the same things that have been said in LA, Nashville, Harrisburg, Tampa and Chicago. Media critics will turn out to denounce big media companies as evil and blame media consolidation for everything from the Iraq War to a proliferation of potholes. One lone local broadcaster will speak on the service their station(s) provides to the community and they will be lightly praised as an exception to the rule. (In fact, they are more the rule than the exception.) You’d think a federal government hearing in a town where such things are rare would be hot news. But the FCC’s localism hearings have turned out to be so redundant and unenlightening that they hardly get any local news coverage. Unless there’s a streaker or something, the Seattle hearing will no doubt be more of the same.