Congress Thanks Media Reform Activists

Reps. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.) and Maxine Waters (D-Calif.)went to the floor of the House late last week to speak out on media consolidation. With the Congress about to adjourn before the elections and consumed with the financial crisis, Inslee and Waters acknowledged that the Resolution of Disapproval (H J. Res 79) may not get a floor vote> But they wanted to thank the public for speaking out so strongly on this issue.

Intense pressure from local citizens and public interest groups throughout 2007 forced the FCC to back down from their efforts to completely eliminate media ownership limits. But last December, the FCC voted to lift the longstanding cross-ownership rule that prevents one company from owning a daily newspaper and broadcast station in the same market. Though narrower than the rule change proposed by the FCC in 2003, the new rule includes massive loopholes that could let a few giant companies swallow up more local media and could put minority media owners out of business.

The public response to this controversial giveaway has been profound. More than 250,000 people wrote the Senate, which voted almost unanimously in May to overturn the FCC rule. With your help we will keep the pressure on the House as well. We have more than 50 co-sponsors on the House version of the resolution. This bill is an important opportunity to get our policymakers on the record on this important issue and build a foundation of opposition against media consolidation in the next Congress.

We are still pushing forward with lawsuits that would nullify the FCC rule change. And we’ll keep pushing for media ownership laws that protect localism and increase female and minority ownership. We’ll be watching carefully for any proposed mergers, such as the developing case in South Bend, Ind. (where one company is trying to push through a deal that would allow it to own four of the six commercial news outlets in the entire market).

Our allies in Congress say they’re committed to continuing this fight next year and acknowledged that your actions have helped to lay a strong foundation of support that will pay off in the future.

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