Support SJ Res 17

Categories: Advocacy Letter

Recipient: U.S. Senate

Support S.J. Resolution 17 Overturning Federal Communications Commission’s Media Ownership Rule

Dear Senator:

The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR), the nation’s oldest, largest, and most diverse civil and human rights coalition with over 180 member organizations, urges you to support S.J. Resolution 17, which would overturn the FCC’s recently announced media rules. The FCC’s media ownership order focused on market efficiencies and technological development to the exclusion of promoting competition, a diversity of voices, and local community engagement. The FCC must not be allowed to move forward implementing these changes.

LCCR believes in the “free market of ideas” and that the health of our nation’s democracy depends on the continued existence of a diversity of viewpoints in the public domain. Diversity of voices, not merely a variety of programming is essential, which is why LCCR member organizations, including groups like the NAACP, NOW, National Council of La Raza, NAPALC, NCAI and the National Partnership for Women and Families, strongly oppose the FCC’s decision to relax the rules that have historically restricted the nation’s largest media conglomerates from growing even bigger.

Prior to the FCC’s June 2nd order, no TV/newspaper mergers were allowed, except where a firm was failing or in those few instances where combinations had already occurred and were grandfathered. Under the new FCC order, TV/newspaper mergers will be allowed in about 200 markets, representing 98 percent of the population. The overwhelming majority of these markets are already concentrated and will become much more so as a result of the FCC’s action. Indeed, approximately 90 percent of markets where mergers would be allowed under the new FCC order are already concentrated in their total number of major sources of local news.

We’ve already seen the danger of media consolidation. After the passage of ’96 Telecommunications Act, for example, media giant Clear Channel Communications went from 40 to approximately 1200 radio stations. Instead of local ownership with a diversity of views, we now have homogenized, cookie-cutter media divorced from local concerns. In addition, minority ownership in TV and radio has dropped substantially at a time when these populations are growing. People of color represent less than 4% of radio and TV owners. Latinos own less than 2% of radio and less than .1% of TV stations.

The FCC’s decision to relax the rules seriously threatens the likelihood of getting diverse viewpoints through the airwaves. The airwaves belong to the people, not to big business. Congress needs to step in to protect the airwaves against the takeover of large media conglomerates. Accordingly, we are asking your support to repeal the FCC’s recent decision to ease media ownership restrictions. If you have any questions, or need further information, please contact Brian Komar, LCCR Director of Strategic Affairs, at 202/466-1885, or Nancy Zirkin at 202/263-2880.

Sincerely,

Wade Henderson, Executive Director and
Nancy Zirkin, Deputy Director