Free Press: Public to Rally for Better Media Outside FCC Headquarters

OCTOBER 29, 2007
10:45 AM

CONTACT: Free Press
Jen Howard, Free Press, (703) 517-6273
Craig Aaron, Free Press, (202) 441-9983

Public to Rally for Better Media Outside FCC Headquarters
FCC hearing gives little notice, time or space for public to air concerns about runaway media consolidation

WASHINGTON, DC - October 29 - Local citizens concerned about media consolidation will rally outside of Federal Communications Commission headquarters during the agency’s hearing on localism on Wednesday, Oct. 31. The hearing was announced just five business days prior to the event and follows reports that FCC Chairman Kevin Martin is rushing to eliminate longstanding media ownership limits before the end of the year.

The rally and hearing will take place:

Wednesday, Oct. 31
Starting at 9 a.m. ET
Federal Communications Commission Headquarters
445 12th Street SW
Washington, D.C.

The following people are available to comment on the event:

Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Sr., Founder, Rainbow/PUSH Coalition
“The public has been shut out of the process. We need to democratize our airwaves. Too few, own too much, at the expense of too many. People of color make up 33 percent of the U.S. population, yet own 7.2 percent of all broadcast stations. This level of inequality is a national disgrace. The FCC must address this media diversity crisis before it makes any changes to the media ownership rules.”

Kim Gandy, President, National Organization for Women
“Media consolidation is making women invisible. We are more than half of the population but less than 6 percent of broadcast station owners. With so few female owners, we are facing an almost unbreakable glass ceiling at the top. The FCC must take action to end the white male stranglehold on the airwaves.”

Brent Wilkes, Executive Director, League of United Latin American Citizens
“It is critical for the FCC to hear how the local media outlets have failed to cover the important contributions being made by the Latino community in the Washington area. The media outlets in Washington have done little to cover the Latino community unless it is a story that sheds a negative light on immigration. The Latino community deserves better.”

Josh Silver, Executive Director, Free Press
“The corrupt FCC process has been biased toward Big Media companies from the start. Industry lobbyists can get a meeting at the FCC — and inside information — whenever they want. But the public isn’t given any real opportunity air their concerns. This rally will give a voice to the countless everyday people who will not be granted time to speak out against more consolidation during the FCC’s so-called public hearing.”

Gene Kimmelman, Vice President of International and Federal Affairs, Consumers Union
“It is time for the FCC to abandon an agenda that promotes monopolization of local media and instead embrace the freedoms that can only flourish with diversely owned local media.”

Andrew Jay Schwartzman, President and CEO, Media Access Project
“No matter how hard Chairman Kevin Martin tries to dampen public response, he hasn’t been able to stop citizens from rallying to support meaningful regulation of broadcasting.”

Bob Edgar, President, Common Cause
“Calling a hearing with little notice on an issue so critically important to our communities shows a blatant disregard for the public’s interest. Every community in this country needs quality, committed local media to provide the information it needs for citizens to make good decisions about their government, their schools, their recreation, everything. If the FCC would listen to the public as much as they listen to lobbyists, they would make sure that would happen.”

Cheryl Leanza, United Church of Christ, Office of Communication, Inc.
“Residents of the Washington area rarely get to talk with federal officials about local matters. And yet the local media is important to residents in Arlington, Bowie, Bethesda and Leesburg and all the other communities in this region. I hope that people of faith, who are so important to the vibrant civic life we enjoy here, will attend this hearing at the FCC. So much of our local news is consumed with national stories; our local religious life receives little coverage.”

Amina Fazullah, Staff Attorney, U.S. Public Interest Research Group
“This hearing is a great opportunity for the FCC to engage with the public. Unfortunately, the Chairman’s office has handicapped its own event by providing the public less than a week to prepare for the hearing. Instead of breaking stride with their closed door practices, the FCC has shown us that they intend try ram through rules without proper public input.”

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