According to a report in The Washington Post today, commenters are up in arms about a proposal circulating out of Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski’s office that allegedly relaxes the ban on a television station owning a newspaper in the same town or city. Advocates, such as Free Press and Public Knowledge, don’t like the proposal, fearing that media consolidation would put a damper on speech and expression.
I believe the lack of transparency in the FCC’s decision making process is at the root of the confusion over media ownership rules. Given the impact the rules could have on increasing diversity in media ownership particularly, as well as the flow of capital to struggling newspapers, the FCC should provide an opportunity for scrutiny of the Chairman’s proposal during a hearing process. The comment system does not ensure that different and relevant perspectives are being reflected in any record on the matter.
The FCC risks being seen as a play pen where only a few vocal advocacy groups can be allowed in to play. This approach negatively impacts consumers and investors alike.