The past several months have seen the rise of a variety of public discussions centered on the media. The Media Ownership Act of 2007 was introduced in the Senate. The FCC held their dog and pony hearings on consolidation, complete with the mischief of Comcast paying seat-fillers to prevent critics from attending the event. Byron Dorgan authored a resolution to nullify the FCC’s gift to Big Media. And the battle over network neutrality continued as Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T endeavored to violate it.
Despite this activity, media reform has not assumed a particularly visible role in the current election season. None of the remaining candidates have gone out of their way to highlight their positions on media issues. So we should be grateful that Ars Technica has done it for them. Here a few excerpts from the article:
“Democratic presidential rivals Barack Obama (D-IL) and Hillary Clinton (D-NY) have both co-sponsored the [Dorgan] declaration along with seven other Democrats and four Republicans. None of those Republicans include the GOP’s choice for the White House, Senator John McCain.”
“…on the big-ticket broadcasting/telecom issues, McCain plays to big media and the telcos. Along with 33 Senate Republicans and no Democrats, he’s a co-sponsor of the Broadcaster Freedom Act, which would permanently bar the FCC from reinstating the Fairness Doctrine. As for net neutrality, he calls for minimal government regulation of broadband.” [News Corpse translation: Let Big Media do whatever the hell they want]
“McCain declined late last year to co-sponsor a Senate bill that would have put the brakes on FCC Chair Martin’s rush to change the Commission’s newspaper/TV cross-ownership rule. Martin got the change enacted after barely two weeks of public comment by a narrow 3 to 2 partisan majority.”
It should also be noted that the lobbyist identified in a recent New York Times article as having had a “relationship” with John McCain, was a telecom lobbyist.
To be sure, the Democrats haven’t had a reliable advocate of media reform since John Edwards was driven out of the race by the media. Barack Obama co-authored an article with Sen. John Kerry that struck the right tone, but he has not given the issue much priority. Hillary Clinton, who counts Rupert Murdoch as a supporter, drifted even further from the pack when she agreed to break ranks and appear on a Fox News-sponsored debate.
There’s still time to get the candidates to refine and promote their positions on media reform, but it will be up to the people to press the matter. That means YOU! You have your assignment.
Update: SaveThe Internet just released a video of members of OK Go testifying (and playing) at a House committee hearing on net neutrality.