Lawmakers need to overturn FCC ruling

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 6, 2003

Tribune editorial staff

If the Federal Communications Commission has its way, a few big fish will be gobbling up all of the guppies in the pond.

The FCC has made it even easier for big media conglomerates to buy up TV stations, radio stations and newspapers like candy. In a 3-2 vote Monday, commission members acted to lift restrictions on cross-ownership of media outlets in the same city.

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What the FCC did was to rule that a single corporation will now be allowed to own local TV stations that reach 45 percent of the market, instead of 35 percent. In larger markets, one company will be able to own more than one TV station, and in smaller markets, the barriers to cross-ownership of newspapers and TV stations is virtually eliminated.

Lawmakers of both parties harshly criticized the FCC Wednesday for approving regulations they characterized as favoring media conglomerates over consumers. The FCC was accused of overstepping their authority Monday when they voted 3-2 to ease restrictions on media ownership. We agree.

The FCC asked large media chains what they wanted, and listened to them. It also asked the American public what it wanted, received 750,000 responses, and ignored them. About 99.9 percent were opposed to what the FCC did.

Making it easier for the monster corporations to gobble up more stations is not in the best interest of the general public. With this rule change, it is not inconceivable that as few as three or four media giants could penetrate nearly 100 percent of American homes.

Lawmakers need to be adamant in their stance that the FCC is wrong and the American people are right. Congress has the power to reverse these rule changes. Citizens must prod lawmakers who told the commission not to make the changes to now take the lead in listening to what the people want.