Fridays the LA Progressive features a comment that was particularly noteworthy. This week we are featuring a comment submitted by Lauren Steiner, commenting on “Proposed Comcast Takeover of NBC Universal Will Hurt Diversity, Critics Say,” by Sylvia Moore. Here’s Lauren’s comment:
Excellent article, Sylvia. I was unable to make it to the hearing. So I am pleased to read such comprehensive coverage by you.
When I started my career in public access cable TV back in 1980, I was alarmed by all the media consolidation that had occurred by that time. We used to talk about public access as being the only place where average citizens and community organizations could have direct first amendment rights using the most powerful medium of persuasion – television. But over the last thirty years, the consolidation of ownership of not only TV stations but TV production companies and radio stations has gotten exponentially worse. And once cable companies no longer needed robust public access operations to win franchises, they reduced their funding or closed them completely. Now they make the case that with the internet, they don’t need public access at all because after all, anyone can start a blog. But with over 30 million web sites out there, these individual voices certainly do not have comparable audiences to those of the satellite and cable channels.
Yes, I agree with you that the way things are going, this may have been just a dog and pony show, and that the merger will be approved. As we have discussed, it’s hard for the public interest to compete with the special interests and their huge campaign contributions. Perhaps the way to go is to try to revive and enforce some of the regulations that the FCC used to have with regard to minority ownership, the Fairness Doctrine, the Equal Time Rule, a minimum number of hours of news and public affairs and children’s programming, etc. After the financial meltdown and the oil spill, there seems to be a resurgence of interest in regulation. After all, these companies do need FCC licenses, and they are supposed to be operating in the public interest, convenience and necessity.