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D.C. DAILY REPORTS and Documents | iPNB D.C. meeting info
iPNB statement to the FCC

Statement of the Pacifica Governing Board regarding the Federal
Communication Commission's impending hearings on media ownership rules.

Passed unanimously by the board on Sunday, December 8, 2002

The Pacifica Governing Board wishes to express deep concern over the Federal Communications Commission's plans to abandon its media ownership

rules. The Commission has reluctantly agreed to hold hearings in Richmond, Virginia in February, 2003 before changing the rules. But it appears that key commissioners have already made up their minds about the matter, and

are poised to eliminate the following regulations:

-- a national cap preventing broadcasting corporations from owning enough stations to reach over 35% of the national audience
-- a cap preventing cable corporations from reaching over 30% of the audience
-- a rule blocking broadcasters from owning a newspaper and a TV station in the same major market
-- even a rule blocking the major networks from merging with each other

The FCC claims that new broadband technologies have made present ownership caps irrelevant. But what will it matter that some Americans will be able to access hundreds of radio and television stations if most are owned by a few corporations? Democracy means a diversity of media owners, not an overflow of channels and Web sites offering roughly the same formats and political viewpoints.

We have already seen the impact of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which allows corporations to buy an unlimited number of radio stations nationally, and up to 8 stations in major regional markets. The act resulted in the creation of broadcasting giants like the Clear Channel Corporation, and a troubling decline in what little local programming existed in commercial radio. Many radio stations now have completely automated programming schedules. Some estimate that the Telecommunications Act has eliminated as many as 10,000 jobs from the broadcasting industry.

This trend has placed the burden for local access radio on the Pacifica stations and the nation's community radio system. We are happy to do our part, but it is a task for which all station owners should be responsible, since the airwaves belong to the public. We are alarmed that the Commission is now even considering eliminating the regional ownership cap of 8 radio stations.

We encourage the staffs of Pacifica's five radio stations to provide as much coverage on this issue as possible and to help raise public awareness on what is at stake. We hope that the network's five Local Advisory Boards will also pass resolutions against these FCC proposals. Most important, we urge the public to contact their representatives in Congress and the FCC at their Web site, www.fcc.gov, and tell the Commission how they feel about these proposed changes.

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