November 20, 2012

Another View: Media ownership consolidation leaves out minority owners

The Seattle Times

A bad idea persists. The Federal Communications Commission is once again expected to seek a weakening of media-ownership rules in the nation's 20 largest markets.

Allowing the consolidation of newspapers and television stations or radio stations ignores the diversity of America -- a grievous mistake, as politicians have learned.

Putting local journalism into a few hands and limiting the access to local media are bad for democracy. Our political system thrives on independent news gathering, viewpoints and opportunities for women and minorities.

"When a country is one-third minority and people of color own only 3 percent of its full-power, commercial television stations, something is wrong," said former FCC Commissioner Michael Copps in a September speech to the National Association of Black-Owned Broadcasters. "Not only are the numbers askew. They make our culture askew," Copps said. A fact sheet produced by Common Cause lays out the grim statistic that six major companies control most of the U.S. media.

Last spring, a nonprofit media-access group, Free Press, noted how the FCC has stalled efforts to review media-ownership rules:

"The court has twice directed the FCC to address persistently and appallingly low levels of ownership of broadcast stations by women and people of color, and to assess the impact of commission rules on ownership for underrepresented groups."

The FCC is apparently ignoring the courts and the lessons of the recent presidential campaign. America's diversity must be acknowledged and respected.

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