FCC hears from broad range of NW voices in Seattle

[via Radio Ink]

After opening statements from a number of politicians and from FCC Commissioners Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein and FCC Chairman Kevin Martin -- all accompanied by shouted remarks and occasional bursts of applause from a lively and opinionated crowd -- the first panel got underway at the FCC's media-ownership hearing in Seattle Friday night.

KVI Seattle talk host John Carlson, a onetime Republican nominee for Washington governor who began by saying he "took home the silver medal in the general election," said, "The effects of consolidation look very different on the ground in this Washington than they do in that Washington."

"I think when deregulation leads to competition, everybody's going to win," Carlson said, "and consolidation is part of that." That earned groans from the audience, but Carlson, after telling the crowd to "hold on," continued, "but it can be carried too far, and I think it has been."

In Seattle, he said, "There is not a single major radio station left in this town with a single owner. Everything is owned by a chain -- everything." And the difference between broadcasting and other chain businesses, he said, is that "a competitor can start a local bank or a restaurant."

He went on, "You can't just go in and start a radio or TV station, because the airwaves are finite, and not only are they finite, they're owned not by the seller, but by the people."

"At a certain point," Carlson said, "consolidation doesn't lead to competition. It doesn't reflect competition, it actually undermines competition, and we're seeing that now."

Carlson was followed by Erubiel Valladares-Carranzo II, the Technical Engineer at low-power FM KPCN in Woodburn, OR, who said that KPCN serves farm workers in a community that is 50 percent Latino. "Corporate control of media and lack of access to our own airwaves has impacted our struggle to protect our rights and build our community," he said.

Valladares-Carranzo went on, "KPCN is not just the only Latino-owned radio station in Woodburn, we are the only station in Oregon owned by a labor union." He said that, after formerly buying time on a commercial station, "Now that we own our radio station, we see how important it is to have this media capacity. Why? Because it is amazing to see how media has positive effects on minority communities."

Valladares-Carranzo was accompanied by Oscar Morales, who, with Valladares-Carranzo translating from Spanish, said he was there to speak for both young people and the migrant community. "Don't shut down our voices," Morales said.

Along with Martin, Copps, and Adelstein, FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell attended the hearing, but he waived his opening remarks, saying he'd submit them later for the record.

article originally published at http://www.radioink.com/HeadlineEntry.asp?hid=139988&pt=todaysnews.

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