Obama To Name Julius Genachowski To Chair The FCC

Remember this name: Julius Genachowski. He appears to be Barack Obama’s choice for chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. In that role he will have an opportunity to not only undue a lot of the damage done by Bush’s henchmen in the post, Michael Powell and Kevin Martin, but he can actually make progress toward a more competitive and diverse environment in the media community.

Josh Silver, executive director of the media reform group, Free Press, issued the following statement:

“Under Julius Genachowski’s leadership, the FCC’s compass would point toward the public interest. President-elect Obama has provided a clear roadmap of his media and technology priorities. We share Obama’s goals of creating a more diverse, democratic media system and providing fast, affordable, open Internet access for everyone. We greatly look forward to working with Mr. Genachowski to put the president-elect’s plan into action.

“The challenges facing the next FCC are enormous — a vast digital divide, an open Internet in jeopardy, consolidated media ownership, newsrooms in economic freefall and entrenched industries invested in maintaining the status quo. This moment calls for bold and immediate steps to spur competition, foster innovation and breathe new life into our communications sector. With his unique blend of business and governmental experience, Genachowski promises to provide the strong leadership we need.”

I thoroughly agree. It is encouraging that the FCC will finally be run by someone with the specific skills and experience to address the many challenges ahead – as opposed to the cronies who were installed solely to pursue the interests of Big Media and the friends of a corrupt White House. Kevin Martin was recently the subject of a Congressional report titled “Deception and Distrust” that cited his abuse of power in his role at the FCC.

While we must continue to monitor the actual performance of the new administration, there is a certain sense of relief that a new era is dawning, and I wish Mr. Genachowski well as assumes the leadership of a critical agency overseeing some of the most fundamental rights of American society.

Update: After Genachowski assumes the leadership of the FCC, the outgoing chair, Kevin Martin, will become a fellow at the Aspen Institute. By embracing Martin, the AI has shown that it has pretty low standards for integrity. Apparently they consider it a badge of honor to be repudiated by Congress as deceptive and untrustworthy.

Stop Big Media – Support Dorgan/Lott

The FCC’s proposed new rules aimed at advancing the interests of Big Media conglomerates, and permitting them to get even bigger and more powerful, now face a legislative hurdle courtesy of Senators Byron Dorgan and Trent Lott. The bill will force the FCC to move forward with localism and diversity initiatives and to give the public at least 90 days to review the new rules that FCC Chairman Kevin Martin wants to adopt.

The legislation is being introduced to keep Martin from rushing through regulations favorable to his corporate benefactors. Dorgan and Lott deserve credit for serving the interests of the public. A new poll illustrates precisely where the public stands on the matter of media consolidation.

“The survey found 57 percent of respondents favored laws against a company owning a paper and TV station in the same market. That level of support was roughly the same among the political liberals, moderates and conservatives surveyed […] The survey also showed 70 percent of respondents described media consolidation as a problem.”

This fight is a replay of one that the people thought they had won in 2003, when 3 million citizens forced the Congress to rollback regs rammed through by then FCC Chair Michael Powell. They were backed up by the courts who ordered the regs to be withdrawn and revised. Now we have to assert our will again as the same powerful interests attempt to write their own ticket.

And once again FreePress.net is leading the fight for media reform, independence and diversity. Visit their site to add your voice to those already speaking out against this power grab by Martin and the Corporate Media. Your message will be forwarded to the FCC and your representatives in Congress. And you can send your friends and family links to this vital information so that they can do the same.

The contact page is at Stop Big Media.

Don’t put it off. Martin and his masters are trying to push there agenda through before Christmas.

FCC Censors Itself On Local Ownership

A report written in 2004 by researchers at the Federal Communications Commission found that local ownership of broadcasters enhanced coverage of community issues. That conclusion directly contradicts prior arguments made by the Commission that claimed consolidation aided localism. The research analyzed over 4,000 hours of news programming and was conducted by veteran media professionals. Michael Powell, Bush crony and corporate media lackey, was the FCC Chairman, at the time the report was produced.

So what happened to this report? According to an FCC attorney, an order was issued that “every last piece” of the report be destroyed. This document, produced at taxpayer expense, was anathema to an agency that has been mightily striving to accommodate the monopolistic interests of Big Media. It could not be allowed to survive.

However, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) obtained a stray copy of the report and questioned current FCC Chair Kevin Martin about it during committee hearings. He claimed never to have seen the report or to have received the letter Boxer had previously sent inquiring as to its status. Either the Powell administration at the FCC effectively erased any evidence of the report from the agency’s files, or Martin is lying. But the stone-walling by the agency is continuing and it remains to be seen if Martin will eventually provide a satisfactory response. If he does not, Boxer has promised to request an investigation by the FCC Inspector General.

Let’s hope this process can conclude before the FCC succeeds in passing new regulations that will allow the expanded consolidation that this report proves will be harmful to the public’s interest.

Update: Former FCC chief, Michael Powell, emerged to plead ignorance, saying through his assistant that…

“he never saw the report, he never heard of the report until yesterday and he certainly never ordered anything destroyed or stopped.”

Also, Sen. Boxer has fulfilled her promise and formally requested an investigation by the FCC Inspector General.