The FCC Won't Let Them Be*

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Listen to this 'Talk of the Nation' topic

The FCC was busy yesterday, handing down two new rules that may have an impact on the average American's media consumption. The first ruling states that no cable company can control more than 30% of the market — the national market. I originally thought it was "of a market," not the market, so I got pretty excited. Can you imagine having a choice of four cable providers? DC is primarily Comcast territory, so the thought of some competition had me envisioning big savings. Think again, Sarah! It's actually nationwide, so it means Comcast, which currently controls nearly 30 percent of the national market, won't be able to grow much. Maybe that'll inspire competition in the local markets, but I wouldn't bet on it. The other rule was pitched as a salvo to struggling newspaper companies — in the 20 biggest markets, companies that own newspapers will also be allowed to own either a radio or a television station, so long as sufficient competition from other independent news sources exists (defined as eight competitors in the market). What do you think about the decisions? Does the cable rule punish the little guys hoping to sell to Comcast, or will it inspire competitors? And will it bother you if your newspaper company also has a radio or television station too? And can newspaper folks do broadcast?

*Apologies to Eminem, but it's been running through my head all day (and I really wish it hadn't been. I'm not such a fan of Mr. Mathers).

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It is scary to think how many people I know who get their news from Right Wing Talk Radio/TV. They actually think it is a "fair and balanced" news instead of the biased, propaganda outlet that it actually is. When you only have one or two heavily promoted Points of View those Points of View become the received wisdom and talking points of the Public Discourse. The fact that we currently are seeing more news about "Illegal immigrants" than "The War in Iraq" is an example of how news organizations, and their owners, try to influence events to further their own aggenda all the while hiding behind the fiction that they "just report the news" in a fair and balanced fashion.

Sent by George from Oregon | 3:04 PM | 12-19-2007

What happens to local news availability when consolidation is allowed? We can examine what has happened to radio news since relaxing by the FCC of ownership rules.
A 2006 survey of radio news directors conducted by Bob Papper of Ball State University found that over 70% of the news directors provide local news to their stations through a centralized newsroom. The average number of stations that those centralized newsrooms serve is 3.3, according to the study. What???s more, over a third of news directors reported overseeing five or more stations.
To protect our form of government we need diverse opinions, free of "consolidated" agenda setting.

Sent by Jim Smart | 3:08 PM | 12-19-2007

What's a newspaper? Seriously. Though shown-to-be inflated, subcriptions are shrinking. I haven't read the local newspaper in years. National TV News, please. I live in CST where the national news comes on a 5:30; who's home by then plus it's all stale by broadcast time. Local TV News, calling it news is a stretch. It's weather, traffic and bad haircuts. I get all my news from the internet: news services, blogs, aggregators... Either you let the players consolidate and share resources or you'll see more newspapers disappear and more local TV news pander celebrity gossip.

Sent by Jack | 3:10 PM | 12-19-2007

You go Jack! I listen to NPR and watch Fox News. (I get plenty of bias that way).

As for George from Oregon:
(The War in Iraq) is an example of how "Over there" rhymes with "I don't care". The Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds are not coming to America to take your kids $5.50 an hour job at Burger Boy.

Its a matter of attention span and proximity. 30 second news, about MY one issue. ClearChannel/Comcast/Viacomm/Disney are just delivering what people ask for, when they want it. For a fee, of course.

Sent by Harold | 1:48 PM | 12-20-2007