FCC Chief: Too Many Voices In The News

The Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, Kevin Martin, told an audience of newspaper publishers that he supports repealing the ban on cross-ownership that prohibits owning a newspaper and television station in the same market. These rules promote greater diversity for news consumers, but Martin would prefer to pander to the media conglomerates he is supposed to be regulating.

In support of his contention that cross-ownership regs hurt publishers, he raises the point that there are some 300 fewer newspapers today than when the regs went into effect 30 years ago. However, it is far more likely that the decline in papers was caused by too much consolidation, not too little.

Martin made clear whose side he is on and, as evidence of his allegiences, he tells the Newspaper Association of America that it is their responsibility to change public opinion that presently favors current law.

“The public is not convinced of the need to change these rules, and if you can’t convince the public, our chances to do that are dim.”

It might be nice if the FCC were advocating on behalf of the public instead of implying that the only thing holding back the publisher’s rule change is the public’s failure to be convinced of the rule’s harm. It might be nice if the FCC recognized that the public just may know what is in it’s own best interest.