Cart way ahead of horse on FCC media ownership events

by Matthew Lasar, via Bay Area Indymedia

Two FCC Commissioners will appear at an August 31st forum on media ownership questions to be held in Los Angeles at the University of Southern California's Davidson Conference Center. Congressmembers Dianne Watson and Hilda Solis will attend the event as well. The organizers have scheduled three "prep workshops" on media prior to the gathering.

San Francisco's Media-Alliance and the National Latino Media Council are sponsoring the teach-in. Media-Alliance and the Bay Area's Youth Media Council are also circulating a petition to get an FCC hearing on media ownership scheduled for Oakland, California.

Meanwhile Washington state's U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell earlier this month called on the FCC to make an appearance in Washington.

"Washington state has a rich history of media diversity and creativity," Cantwell said in a press release. "Holding a public hearing here would give our citizens an opportunity to provide input at the very beginning of a process that will have broad ramifications."

Some communities have already held their own gatherings. Asheville, North Carolina activists conducted their town hall meeting on June 28th, just days after the FCC opened a new media ownership proceeding. Free Press, a media reform group, sponsored the forum. Their next scheduled teach-in will take place in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on September 7th.

On July 24th the FCC launched a new Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking asking the public to comment on how to revise the Commission's broadcast ownership limits. Up for grabs are rules restricting how many stations a company can buy, whether a corporation can own TV stations and newspapers in the same market, and if a firm can control enough television stations to reach more than 35% of the nation's viewing households.

The FCC relaxed many of these rules in 2003, only to see their decision struck down by a Federal court a year later.

The new proceeding gives the public until September 22nd to comment, and until November 21st to reply to comments.

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