State House committee says no to media consolidation

In Olympia this week, a Washington State House committee approved a resolution asking Congress to roll back the FCC's recent deregulation of media ownership rules.

At issue is a controversial FCC decision last December to allow media companies to control both a city's newspaper and TV/radio stations, in the 20 largest markets. The decision flies in the face of overwhelming opposition expressed by the thousands of people who testified against media consolidation at six public hearings, hundreds of thousands of comments submitted to the FCC, and an impressively bipartisan range of elected officials.

The FCC's final public hearing on the issue was held in Seattle on Nov 9. Despite having less than a week's notice of the hearing date, over 1100 people turned out to testify at the nine-hour marathon hearing. Elected officials speaking against deregulation of media ownership rules included Governor Christine Gregoire (D), Attorney General Rob McKenna (R), Senator Maria Cantwell (D), Rep. Dave Reichert (R), Rep. Jay Inslee (D), State Rep. Bob Hasegawa (D) and King County Councilman Reagan Dunn (R).

On Wednesday, the State House Committee on Technology, Energy and Communications unanimously endorsed a resolution urging Congress to enact the Media Ownership Act, a bill which would retroactively repeal the FCC's December ruling, and impose stronger public accountability requirements on future FCC decisions.

Community radio producer and media activist extraordinaire Gavin Dahl testified before the committee this week, representing Reclaim the Media in support of the resolution.
KAOS-FM and the Washington State ACLU also registered their support; testifying on the other side was Mark Allon of the Washington State Association of Broadcasters.

After hearing testimony, the committee voted unanimously to approve the measure, which now heads to the full House for final approval. The resolution is non-binding.

Listen to comments by bill sponsor Rep. Deb Wallace, and testimony from Gavin Dahl.

The media's job is to interest the public in the public interest. -John Dewey