Speaking Out on Free Speech
Significant Comments on the Media Ownership Issue
May 22, 2003
Background information on the media ownership regulations the Federal Communications Commission may change June 2: http://www.futureofmusic.org/mediaactivism.cfm
Significant Comments on the Media Ownership Issue
"The media serve a unique role in democracies that value free and creative expression, independent thought, and diverse perspectives. In recognition of this unique public interest role, the "free press" is the only business explicitly protected in the U.S. Constitution. We cannot, therefore, treat the media like any other industry. Its products are not widgets or toasters; they are culture, information, ideas and viewpoints. Consequently, we must be especially vigilant in protecting and preserving the public interest as it relates to this vitally important industry."
-- David Croteau, Virginia Commonwealth University professor and author of "The Business of Media: Corporate Media and the Public Interest"
"The greater public interest is to be found instead in the Republic's need for a robust, independent, public spirited journalism that provides citizens with the information they need to guide and govern its affairs - for the citizens in our government are the ultimate holders of sovereign power and their need for information to perform their responsibilities is therefore paramount."
-- Jay Harris, founding director, Center for the Study of Journalism and Democracy at University of Southern California and former publisher of the San Jose Mercury News
"Action to change rules as currently written will have a resounding negative impact on the quality of news content, the diversity of voices and viewpoints, and most importantly on media competition."
-- Condace L. Pressley, president of the National Association of Black Journalists
"The American people have not been adequately informed about the profound changes that are about to occur. (FCC Chairman Powell should seek the widest possible public debate before promulgating rules that will fundamentally alter the media landscape in our nation)."
-- Juan Gonzalez, president of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists
"The board of directors of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists calls upon the FCC to postpone its scheduled issuing of rules this spring until it has convened a series of public hearings in different parts of the country, so as to allow the maximum possible input by the public into the Commission's deliberations."
--Statement of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists on the FCC's Biennial Review of Broadcast Ownership Rules
"Along with other organizations, we believe the FCC should provide ample opportunity for the public, which has much to gain or lose through the changes in the media ownership rules, to be a part of this complex discussion through additional hearings" -"By convening a single public hearing on changes that have potential to substantially reshape the news media industry, the FCC is not serving the public's interest."
-- Ernest R. Sotomayor, president of UNITY, a national coalition of journalists of color
"The NRA asked its members to write Powell, [the FCC Chairman], and lawmakers in support of the existing rules"-"These big media conglomerates are already pushing out diversity of political opinion."
-- Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the National Rifle Association
"The Society of Professional Journalists calls on the Federal Communications Commission to hold additional public hearings on possible changes to limits on media ownership, and asks the American news media to devote additional attention to the issue."-"We urge journalists and their supervisors to consider what Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel of the Project for Excellence in Journalism said in The New York Times, that the proposed changes "could reduce the independence of the news media and the ability of Americans to take part in public debate."
-- Press release from the Society of Professional Journalists
"We encourage the FCC to adopt rules allowing free, local broadcasters to build on our record of bringing community service home. With adoption of modest deregulation, and with the ongoing transition to digital, the world's finest system of free, local broadcasting will only get better."
--Edward O. Fritts, president & CEO, of the National Association of Broadcasters
"I believe that raising the 35 percent limit is not good for the industry or the public."- "Local broadcasters should not be simply the distribution arms of monolithic enterprises.
"-The big bad truth that I don't think anyone really understands or gives enough importance to is that the big four networks have in fact reconstituted themselves into the oligopoly that the FCC originally set out to curb back in the 1960s."
--Television mogul Barry Diller
"There's really five companies that control 90 percent of what we read, see and hear. It's not healthy."
-- CNN founder Ted Turner
"Entertainment variety and the number of channels available to consumers are not what this debate is about. Instead, (there should be focus on the) concentration in media ownership, consolidation of transmission capacity, and the way in which equity stakes in programming undercut diversity of thought and speech, undermine the creation and distribution of independent news, and limit the range of culturally important entertainment products."
"We believe that if you engage in a more careful, rigorous analysis, it will be clear that to promote -(the) goal of diversity of ownership, the Commission must maintain and reinvigorate the ownership rules before it."
--Statement endorsed by Wade Henderson, executive director of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights and Hilary O. Shelton, director of the NAACP
"Pencil and paper proceedings in Washington cannot do justice to the issues raised by these proposals. This is especially true in light of surveys showing that the FCC is out of step with public opinion."
--Mark Cooper, director of Research for Consumer Federation of America
Compiled by Pete Carr