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Signs of Life :: Media

FCC Defies Citizen Input

FCC hearing Seattle 2007
FCC Commissioners hear testimony from Liz Brown (The Newspaper Guild/CWA) in Seattle. Photo by Jonathan Lawson

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin Martin pushed through a decision to allow big media companies to hold combined ownership of newspapers, TV, and radio stations in the nation’s largest cities—concentrating corporate control over news outlets serving millions of Americans.

The FCC’s decision defied tens of thousands of public comments voiced at six hearings held over the past year and submitted in writing.

Senators and representatives from both parties also weighed in, urging the FCC not to weaken the rules.

At the final hearing held in Seattle on November 9, an overflow crowd of more than 1,100 people from Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, and California kept the commissioners in their seats for nine hours of testimony. All but a handful of those testifying expressed opposition to weakened media ownership limits.

The FCC had scheduled the hearing with just one week’s advance notice. Despite the unusually compressed timeline, an ad hoc coalition led by Reclaim the Media got the word out and held workshops in Washington and Oregon to help citizens prepare two-minute comments for the hearing.

Citizens and media activists are now looking to Congress to overrule the FCC.

—Jonathan Lawson is executive director of Reclaim the Media

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Sarah van Gelder and Fran Korten's FCC testimony at the Seattle hearing

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