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The Coming Monopoly

FCC Chairman and longtime Republican operative Kevin Martin is doing his best to short circuit free and fair political reporting by accelerating media ownership consolidation.

He is doing this with a fast track effort to get the FCC board to lift the ban on media cross ownership with a minimum of public input. Martin is trying to quickly and quietly stack the media deck against labor, environmental activists, the anti-war movement and other progressive organizations by making it more difficult to for them to get their messages out.

With only one week's notice, Martin called a hearing, which he said would be the last on the topic. The FCC heard arguments for and against lifting the ban on organizations owning both TV stations and newspapers in the same market. The huge media conglomerates that control communication in this country have dedicated vast resources and lobbying efforts to overturn this ban. And they have enjoyed at least a partial victory. Eliminating the ban will help media moguls like Rupert Murdoch edge out smaller, community oriented operators and obtain a monopoly in broadcast and print media.

The short notice of this hearing gave the voices of opposition little time to prepare a defense for a non-biased, public accessible media and to raise awareness of the negative effect that increased cross ownership will have on political discourse.

"The proposed cross ownership rules being considered by the FCC will deeply damage the capacity of voters to hear the full range of possibilities during elections, placing our democracy in peril," according to Daniel del Solar, activist and former President of Radio Station KALW in San Francisco. "The FCC should be taking steps to insure the diversity of points of view in some of the most powerful media elements that shape our society, broadcast and cable media."

Continuing its advocacy for huge multinational corporations, the Bush administration, through Martin, is once again trying to silence opposition to its destructive and unfair policies.

This is a classic "David and Goliath" story that pits giant corporations, led by the "Big five" (NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN and Fox) against small grass roots and faith-based organizations in a struggle to have their messages heard.

"The faith based community is a traditional advocate of social justice" said Cheryl Leanza, Director of Communication of the United Church of Christ (UCC), which has a tradition of progressive activism that goes back to the civil rights movement of the 1960s.

"Big media organizations tend to be more profit driven and dedicate fewer resources to journalism," Leanza continued. "When there are fewer journalists there is less coverage of the issues. Consolidated media also drives up the cost of advertising making it difficult for small businesses..."

The corporate media claims that consolidation is a boon for consumers. They also run commercials that boldly claim when Chevron buries tons of junk off the coast of California, they are doing it to create new reefs and refuge for little fishies.

"Media moguls may tout media consolidation as a plus for readers and viewers, but they are off base," says Burt Dragin, chair of the journalism department at Laney College in Oakland, California. "Fewer media voices mean that our democracy --  already suffering from the Constitution-shredders in the White House -- take another step toward farce... Unfettered media barons will, literally, have the final word."

What little remains of a free and independent media is quite literally being put up for sale. If the current trend continues, even the internet will belong to and be controlled by big corporations. All they have to do is buy it.

Hello big brother, good buy Murdock.


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