Free Press Disappointed in FCC Decision to Defend Discredited Media Ownership Rule

FreePress

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Liz Rose, Communications Director, 202-265-1490 x 32

Free Press Disappointed in FCC Decision to Defend Discredited Media Ownership Rule

WASHINGTON - The Federal Communications Commission filed a
brief today with a U.S. appeals court defending the agency's 2007
decision under former Chairman Kevin Martin to weaken the
Newspaper-Broadcast Cross-Ownership (NBCO) Rule.

The Martin NBCO Rule, which was adopted as part of the FCC's
2006 media ownership review, is marred by procedural irregularities,
ambiguous provisions and loopholes -- all of which run counter to the
rule's purpose: to protect local communities from media monopolies and
to increase diversity in the marketplace of ideas. The watered-down
rule allows media outlets to merge based on promises that the FCC cannot
monitor or enforce.

Free Press Policy Counsel Corie Wright
said:

"We are disappointed that Chairman Genachowski directed the
agency to defend a defective NBCO rule that has been widely criticized
both for its substance and for the manner in which it was adopted.

"We are also disheartened because the current Commission had
the opportunity to fix a number of loopholes in the rule through the
FCC's reconsideration process. But it declined to do so. As a
consequence, the rule could allow local newspapers and TV stations to
merge in virtually any market, resulting in less diverse and democratic
media."

In May, Free Press, along with co-counsel the Georgetown
Institute for Public Representation and Media Access Project, filed a brief arguing that the FCC's 2007 decision
to significantly weaken its media ownership rules was unreasonable and
against the law. The case is currently pending in the U.S. Court of
Appeals for the Third Circuit - the same court that struck down a 2003
attempt by then-Chairman Michael Powell to lift virtually all of the
FCC's media ownership limits.

Yesterday, a bipartisan group of senators sent a letter to the FCC reminding the agency of the
Senate's concerns about media consolidation. In 2008, the Senate passed
a resolution of disapproval of the Martin NBCO Rule. The resolution
had bipartisan support, including from then-Sen. Barack Obama.

Link to
Free Press, Georgetown Institute for Public Representation and Media
Access Project brief: http://www.freepress.net/files/Prometheus_Brief.pdf

Link to
statement and bipartisan letter to FCC: http://www.freepress.net/press-release/2010/7/20/democracy-depends-diverse-media-senators-say

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Free Press is a national, nonpartisan organization working to reform the media. Through education, organizing and advocacy, we promote diverse and independent media ownership, strong public media, and universal access to communications. Learn more at www.freepress.net

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