Late last Friday afternoon, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin announced the sixth and final hearing on media ownership, to take place in Seattle on November 9. As was the case with the October 31 hearing on localism in D.C., Martin has given the public precious little time to prepare. This once again calls into question his commitment towards considering public opinion. Of course, citizen sentiment regarding consolidation is almost entirely negative. But that's no excuse for ignoring concerns.
Is it all just a charade? Check out what FCC Commissioners Copps and Adelstein have to say:
A hearing with only five days notice is no nirvana for Seattle and the Pacific Northwest. This smells like mean spirit. Clearly, the rush is on to push media consolidation to a quick and ill-considered vote. It shows there is a preordained outcome. Pressure from the public and their elected representatives is ignored. With such short notice, many people will be shut out. We received notice of the hearing just moments before it was announced. This is outrageous and not how important media policy should be made.
And they're not the only government figures peeved by Martin’s rush to change existing rules. Following Senators Lott and Dorgan's joint press conference, Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Inouye decided to hold a hearing on November 8 -- the day before the Seattle affair. The topic du jour? Localism, which Martin no doubt thought he'd put behind him with the Halloween hearings. Guess the topic just won’t stay, ahem, buried.
Word on the Hill has it that Martin is planing a vote for sometime in December. It remains to be seen whether Congressional pressure will have any effect on his push for rule changes. One thing is certain, at least according to the general public: further consolidation will have an incredibly negative effect on the FCC's stated goals of competition, localism and diversity.
Need more proof? Check out FMC's 2006 Radio Study and its corresponding Executive Summary. Watch an interesting video report on consolidation from PBS' Bill Moyers.
Visit the Senate Commerce Committee website for the the live webcast of Thursday's hearing on localism.
Details on Friday's public hearing on media ownership in Seattle:
Date: Friday, Nov. 9, 2007
Time: 4:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.
Location: Town Hall Seattle, Great Hall
1119 Eighth Avenue (at Seneca Street) Seattle, WA 98101
Swing by StopBigMedia.com for more info.