On Sept. 20 in Chicago, the FCC will be holding a crucial public hearing on media ownership. If you care about getting more indie music on the air, the diversity of voices on the airwaves, localism, and breaking the grip of big media conglomerates, it's important that you attend.
The public hearing is the fifth of six the FCC is holding around the country as it prepares to revise rules on broadcast ownership. Public hearings can be sleep inducing, but as they go this one couldn't be more important. The FCC is reviewing limits on local television and radio ownership, limits on the cross-ownership of TV or radio stations and a newspaper in a particular market, and limits on television/radio cross radio ownership among other rules.
Anyone that's watched the homogenizing effect of Clear Channel on the nation's radio landscape knows how relaxing ownership limits can have a negative impact on the media. Clear Channel became a behemoth following deregulation of the radio industry in the mid-1990s. It's not just radio we need to worry about either. Many major cities are seeing an unprecedented waive of media consolidation. For instance, nearly every daily newspaper in the Bay Area is now owned by a single media company.
Chicago is no exception as our friends over at Free Press have observed in a recent study of media diversity:
Chicago has one of the lowest levels of minority ownership among markets of its size and diversity. Research conducted by Free Press, the national media reform group, found that racial and ethnic minorities make up nearly two-thirds of Chicago’s population but own only 5 percent of the city’s full-power commercial radio and TV stations. Despite comprising half of the population, women own just 6 percent of the city’s radio and TV stations.
The hearing will be held at the Operation PUSH headquarters on the south side of Chicago. It will run from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. and those interested in commenting during the public comment section of the hearing need to sign up before hand by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org or
by calling 202-418-0530. For the address of the hearing and further details, see the FCC press release.