FCC testimony on media ownership: Liz Brown

Good evening, my name is Liz Brown and I am the administrative officer for and a proud member of the Pacific Northwest Newspaper Guild. Our union is part of the Communications Workers of America and we represent more than 1,000 newspaper and printing employees in Washington State -- including employees at the Seattle Times, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the Yakima Herald-Republic, and other news operations.

We strongly believe that relaxation of the FCC rules against cross-ownership of newspapers and broadcast media will only accelerate the pace of job losses in the American media industry. More than forty-four thousand news industry employees have lost their jobs over the past five years. With at least thirty-four thousand jobs lost at newspapers alone, ownership consolidation is in part the cause. These media job losses are having a direct impact on the quality of journalism provided to American citizens, and informed citizenry is essential to a functioning democracy.

The consolidation of media ownership means fewer journalists, fewer choices, fewer voices, and an under informed public. Consolidation of ownership matters because the exclusivity arrangements that corporate owners love are ultimately bad for consumers. When newspapers merge with stations, it means more cooperation but less competition and less motivation for each operation to go after better stories and to get those stories right.

Some media executives have said that the proliferation of information available on the internet makes the concentration of media ownership irrelevant, but that is not the case. As we all know, internet traffic increasingly is channeled through portals owned or likely to be purchased by these same media corporations gobbling up newspaper and broadcast properties across the nation. Please maintain existing regulations against consolidation of media ownership. Take a firm stand on behalf of consumers, media workers, and the democracy we all call home. Thank you.

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