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Wednesday, December 26, 2012
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Public Works Against Self in FCC Vote

(Publisher's Note: The following appeared at Audio Graphics on March 4, 2003.)

If what was at this meeting in the form of public representation is what the FCC will use to decide, the issue is dead before it gets voted on... it was a circus, and sad.

Structure is required in any open forum. Control is too. What was witnessed from my easy chair, while watching CSPAN's coverage of the Richmond Virgina "Public Hearing on Broadcast Ownership," had both. Neither worked in the best interest of the public.

"...all your big media companies are planning how to best structure our children's future to the industry's benefit." John F. Kennedy won the 1962 election because he looked more interesting on television. If any of the FCC commissioners had been in the running that year, they would have come in a distant third to Nixon.

No signage was needed. FCC Chairman Powell was bored and his two Republican commissioners weren't interested in what was being said either.

What was clear, and interesting, was how ill-informed the ("don't call me a consumer") citizens were in their preparedness of the issue and in understanding how politics work. With few exceptions, those that got their sixty seconds of comment should have spent that time at a local pub. The bartender would have given more empathy to people sounding so incoherent.

Here's the only "fact" laid plain during this meeting: Jane Public is not aware of what lies ahead because the very media that is vying for expansion refuses to cover this story, to expose the opportunity for the public to speak.

This was evidenced by a half-filled room, which was half-occupied by "suits" from the industry and half by scared citizens.

If there's any reason to visit the FCC's web site to log your comment it's in this: Public comments at this forum only slightly resembled a reason to continue control of big media.

Meanwhile, all your big media companies are planning how to best structure our children's future to the industry's benefit.

Two observations:

1) This process is a joke. O.K., there's only so many minutes in an hour, and this limits the amount of time a person gets to address the commission. But using "bad weather" as a reason to further limit the time - as FCC Chairman Michael Powell did - only reinforces how little these "public forums" mean.

2) The joke is not funny. Mark Mays used the "canary in a coal mine" analogy to surmise radio is fine. What this proved is that not only do we lack a commitment from the radio community to do what's best for the public, but that the industry shoves this disdain for the public's good back into its face - knowing full well it has the upper hand in these proceedings.

Look for the ownership rules to be repealed [and they were, in a vote on June 2, 2003] despite heroic efforts by Commissioner Copps (who commented the "canary immediately got acquired").

[Footnote: "While FCC officials met 71 times with the networks September 2002 - June 1, 2003, consumer groups had five meetings.]

Quotes from Ken. Year, 2003:
While FCC Commision Chair Michael Powell defiantly stated that he
would not listen to the public, elected officials stood silent.
Radio - Labels Preparing for Battle
RAB2003 will have one seminar on the Internet - on how to use it for
selling classified ads!
Your cellphone is turning into a sellphone, and there's little
anyone can do about it.
Radio has not embraced the Internet as a way for advertisers
to enhance ads, so look for the Internet to become a competitor.
For [radio] an industry that's been around since the
nineteen-twenties to have to "educate" anyone is ridiculous.
it won't be too many years before the act of tuning into an online
station in your home is as easy as turning on the stove.

Have a safe and merry holiday.

Ken Dardis

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