Communications Subcommittee Ranking Member Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and four of her colleagues on the Energy and Commerce Committee has sent a letter to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski stating that more study needs to be done before easing broadcast/print cross-ownership restrictions.
Joining Eshoo are Michael F. Doyle (D-PA), Edolphus Towns (D-NY), Donna Christensen (D-VI) and Bobby Rush (D-IL).
They underscored the FCC’s mission to uphold the “core values of competition, localism, and diversity of media.” They noted that while the internet is clearly becoming a strong part of the media, there is no evidence that internet news sources are doing anything to increase the number of voices providing local news and information, and the fact that there are still many America households that are not online.
They said those two facts throw into question the advisability of relaxing cross-ownership restrictions.
“The American public deserves to have choice in the medium through which they access news and information,” they wrote, “online via their tablets, smartphones and laptops or via their local television and radio stations. Yet, even more crucial is preserving Americans’ ability to choose between different voices, viewpoints and opinions. It’s the Commission’s job to protect and promote this localism and diversity in our marketplace of ideas.”
They concluded that the Commission must hold off on any action until it has fully assessed the impact of more consolidation on diversity and localism.
RBR-TVBR observation: There is one great element to letters like this, and that is the strong statement as to the critical value of local over-the-air television and radio. Here we have five members of the House of Representatives stating that “…local television and radio stations are the essential – and sometimes the only – source of local news and information for many communities.” We think that is a fine unsolicited testimonial!