Thursday, January 30, 2003

who said media was f.a.i.r.?

here's an action alert from fair, concerning the fact that none of the electronic media are reporting about the new fcc rules for owndership consolidation of the electronic media. what a co-inky-dink, eh?

Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting
Media analysis, critiques and activism

Broadcast Networks File FCC Comments-- But Not Stories

The review of media ownership rules underway at the Federal Communications Commission will have an enormous impact on the future of broadcasting and on media diversity. The FCC is considering repealing or altering a number of key rules that limit media consolidation. But you wouldn't know any of
this from watching network television news.

Media companies stand to gain a lot from a relaxation of the ownership caps. So it is no surprise that NBC/General Electric, ABC/Disney and CBS/Viacom have all filed comments with the FCC.

It's what they haven't done that is more troubling: None of the big three networks have found the story worth reporting in depth. Since the FCC issued its notice on the ownership rules last September, a search of the Nexis news database turns up one network story: a short summary of the FCC's announcement on ABC's World News This Morning (9/9/02), which according to the transcript aired at 4:30 AM.

So, people who rely on network TV for their news are almost certainly unaware that the FCC is poised to roll back regulations that currently prevent networks from buying many of their independently owned affiliates. Or that the agency may soon allow one major network to buy another. Or
that rules that have kept the newspaper business separate from the TV industry may soon be a thing of the past.

There have been plenty of opportunities to report on these sweeping proposals. For example, FCC Chair Michael Powell's appearance before the Senate Commerce Committee on January 14 provided a perfect news peg. The Wall Street Journal's January 3 report, "FCC Flooded With Letters Opposing Media Consolidation," described the massive public input on this matter. A hearing in New York this month, attended by all five FCC commissioners,
also attracted media attention-- but nothing on the networks.

ACTION: Encourage the nightly network news programs to report on the proposed rule changes at the FCC. You might point out that as the prime
beneficiaries of any relaxations of broadcast ownership limits, the networks have a duty to explore the full debate on the issue.


ABC World News Tonight

NBC Nightly News

CBS Evening News