Tuesday, September 18, 2007

How to Speak to the FCC

The Federal Communications Commission has released the official schedule for their hearings in Chicago on media regulation (click here for the pdf, or here for the Word document.) The hearings, open to the public and with most of the time set aside for comment from TV viewers, will be held at the Operation Push National Headquarters 930 East 50th Street, at the corner of South Drexel Blvd. They'll be using Dr. King’s Workshop, a 1,200-seat venue, so that they're ready for big crowds.

This is the public's chance to speak directly to the five commissioners at the FCC about how broadcasters should be regulated. Back in 2003, the FCC adopted new rules on media ownership that would have allowed media conglomerates to own a larger share of the market, greatly increasing consolidation and reducing minority input at the management level. The public outcry was fast and furious. Over 1 million people sent letters to the FCC, and the U.S. Senate publically rebuked the Commission for its stance. A court challenge forced the FCC to start over from scratch.

That's why they're coming to Chicago for the 5th of 6 planned hearings around the country.

There are many perspectives on what's wrong with broadcasting today. ICPR has been tracking coverage of local government, campaigns, and elections for years. We've found that TV news broadcasts throughout the Chicago media market spend more time touting themselves and their upcoming stories than they do covering local campaigns, government and elections. Ensuring that these stations remember their obligation to local viewers is an essential role for the FCC.

TV viewers from around the Midwest now have a rare opportunity to speak directly to the five Commissioners who will decide how to ensure that broadcasters serve the public interest. Viewers should seize this opportunity.

For more information on these hearings, click on these links:

Benton Foundation
Broadcasting and Cable (magazine)
Chicago Media Action:
Free Press
Illinois PIRG

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