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Halloween was especially scary this year, thanks to a truly spooky move by Kevin Martin.
After serving as deputy legal counsel to the Bush Cheney Campaign, Martin became another of the corporate toadies that George W has installed in key government regulatory agencies. As chairman of the federal communications commission, this former lawyer for media companies, says that he has figured out what’s wrong with the media in America: The barons who run the big conglomerates simply are not allowed to own enough of our country’s news outlets.
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So Martin is trying to rush through a new FCC cross-ownership rule that will allow any one conglomerate to grab more control of media sources in our cities, allowing one corporation to own a city’s newspaper as well as a top radio or TV station. So much for such little matters as diversity, competition, and well… democracy.
Not surprisingly, Martin wants to ram through his media concentration program by Christmas. After all, it would make a lovely gift for the media billionaires, wouldn’t it? To speed it up, on Halloween, the chairman held a quickie hearing that was required before his new rule could be approved. He tried to sneak the hearing past the public by not announcing when or where it would be held until just before the event.
However, he underestimated the public’s devotion to media democracy. As Martin entered the FCC building for his sneaky Halloween hearing, he was greeted by 150 protesters on the street and more than 250 people who packed into the hearing room. Moreover, his attempted coup produced an outpouring of emails and phone calls to congress, demanding action to stop him.
An odd-bedfellow congressional coalition, led by Democrat Byron Dorgan and Republican Trent Lott, has rallied to protect the public interest. To learn more, connect with a watchdog group called Free Press: www.freepress.net.
“Senate Takes a Stand on Media Ownership,” Press Release, www.freepress.net, November 8, 2007
“Public Urges the FCC to Listen to Broad Outcry against Big Media,” Press Release, www.freepress.net, October 31, 2007
“FCC Holds Hearing on Localism,” www.mediaweek.com, October 25, 2007
“Testimony at FCC Hearing Blasts Flawed FCC Research,” Press Release, www.freepress.net, October 31, 2007
“FCC Hearing Shuts Out the Public,” Press Release, www.freepress.net, October 24, 2007
“Few Friends For Proposal On Media,” The New York Times, November 14, 2007
“Chairman Kevin J. Martin,” http://www.fcc.gov/commissioners/martin/, January 12, 2007