The FCC has been seeking comments on whether, as federal law requires, it needs to further deregulate media ownership. Instead, a group of seven liberal activist groups has filed comments calling for the FCC to reverse the dereg it has already done and further tighten ownership limits.
The joint filing comes from the Office of Communication of United Church of Christ, Prometheus Radio Project, Media Alliance, National Organization for Women, National Hispanic Media Coalition, Common Cause and Benton Foundation. They dismiss the notion that the economic problems facing broadcasters should come into play at all. “The Commission should not change its rules simply because some stations are experiencing short term economic difficulties,” they argued.
“The Commission should promote the public interest in diversity, competition and localism by tightening up the current limits,” the filing stated. In particular, they question whether any TV duopolies should be allowed at all, since stations now have digital multicasting, and whether shared service agreements and local news agreements should be allowed at all.
They also want the numerical limits for radio ownership in a single market to be reduced “to create more opportunities for minorities and women to enter the radio business.” And rather than eliminate the newspaper-broadcast crossownership rule, they want it to be reinforced and all “loopholes” closed.
Last but not least, they want the “UHF discount” for determining national audience reach to be eliminated, since most TV stations are now in the UHF band since the digital transition.
RBR-TVBR observation: What an incredible line of garbage from a bunch of inside the beltway folks who have no grasp whatsoever of reality. Elimination of the UHF discount – or rather, coming up with a new, unified standard – makes sense, but the rest of their arguments disregard the mandate of Congress and the reality of the new media marketplace. Enacting their proposals wouldn’t open up any opportunities for women or minorities, since they would drive more stations into bankruptcy and make already scarce capital even harder to come by.