FCC’s Short-Notice Localism Hearing

    by Benjamin Melançon
    October 27, 2007

    FCC Chairman Kevin Martin announced the upcoming hearing on localism with less than a week notice. Though there’s still time to speak up for local news and localism in media, this short notice shortchanges the public. Don’t take my word for it- here are two of the five FCC members stating their view:


    Tonight’s Public Notice doesn’t bode well for the future of the Commission’s localism and media ownership proceedings. Over two weeks ago, we agreed to clear our calendars for the possibility of a localism hearing in Washington on Oct 31st. But neither we nor the public received any confirmation that the hearing would occur until tonight just 5 business days before the event. This is unacceptable and unfair to the public. And it makes putting together an expert panel nearly impossible.

    Is the Commission serious about allowing the public to participate in the agency’s decision- making? Or is the goal to be able to claim that hearings have been held, even if the public has not had a chance to fully participate?

    Speaking of late notice, happy belated Happy Media Democracy Day, Canada! (Alternate title: why I’m not on a breaking news beat.)

    What relates this content? Our surprising lack of awareness to media democracy issues. Media democracy activities were going on in Toronto while the Online News Association conference was being held there. The hearing in Washington D.C. is on local communities and their relationship to media and journalism. Also present is the related issue of the vast new giveaway of precious airwave spectrum made availalable by digital technology.


    That’s all three of the points – community, journalism, and digital technology – that bind our projects for the Knight Foundation’s News Challenge together. Add that this hearing is an opportunity for civic engagement about, well, the future of civic engagement in democracy.

    All this, and my first notice of the last public FCC hearing on localism – after the others around the country brought people out in large numbers in favor of local control and ownership of media – came from the open listserve which is the main organizatial existence of the Grassroots Radio Coalition!

    Is it too much to ask that the future of media be covered in the media?

    Tagged: democracy fcc localism media radio

    6 responses to “FCC’s Short-Notice Localism Hearing”

    1. UPDATE: In the non-trade, non-activist media the only news outlet with an online presence to cover this hearing, the late announcement, and the broader rushed effort to again change regulations to permit more concentrated media ownership is… (envelope please) … Variety!

    2. This relates directly to my first question blogging here: what is news?

      My main answer: what is important.

      Contribute your definition: http://RootTruth.org/

    3. Related content: Telecom/government revolving door. With a side dish of drugs for spice, regarding Plan Mexico. It follows the model of U.S.’s Plan Colombia, with likely the same results: corrupt governments plus billions of dollars equals as much drugs on U.S. streets as ever. At some point this doesn’t look like an accident.

      The journalism-related point, though, is that we have a government in evident need of a lot of scrutiny, and instead telecommunications firms (slowly converging with media companies) are helping it scrutinize us.

      (Disclosure: I volunteer for the Fund for Authentic Journalism which supports the work of the Narco News Bulletin.)

    4. Alan says:

      Apparently, Martin told Copps and Adelstein several weeks ahead of time to keep their schedule open — but didn’t actually announce the meeting (location and time) until just a week before it happened, in case anyone actually wanted to make plans to attend.

    5. Benjamin:

      If memory serves, the major media was also behind the story of loosening the FCC’s local ownership rules back in 2002 as well.

      This I do think comes from the corporate management of the media companies which seeks, like Rupert Murdock or Disney, to expand their empires. Smaller media conglomerates are probably okay with the idea as well as it would increase the demand for their properties if the really big boys could expand.

      The real question is whether the public will again go to Congress to overule the FCC which seems to have the elimination of restrictions on local ownership a continous effort. The mainstream media will likely cover that event.

      Personally … and I emphasize personally … I’m more concerned with the effort to enact rules that move us away from net-neutrality.

    6. Michael says:

      As has become business as usual, with public opinion squarely in opposition, an agency of the Federal Government is acting with further corporate favor and enrichment as the guiding influence in it’s decision making process.
      The seemingly and utter disappearance of any moral compass, much less an accountability to the taxpayer, the FCC, a regulatory agency with broad powers is poised to allow even further consolidation of the media giants across the United States. And the attempt to justify this decision based on issues of newspaper profitability, is in reality, a lie. What a surprise.
      And any cabal of key persons, inside or outside of government, with hidden agendas and secretive motives shall gain further control over the information carefully granted the US population, further poisoning cultural and political mythology.
      The good ole’ boys club grows stronger. Manufacturing consent and managing the bewildered herd will become child’s play. Investigative journalism is dying, and the elitists could hardly be happier as things for them on a number of important fronts is going swimmingly.
      The war between the rich and poor is over.
      The rich won.

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