30 Issues: What the FCC?

The Federal Communications Commission is a bipartisan panel, but the chair is always a presidential appointee. Under the Bush administration, Chairman Michael Powell pursued what observers say was an aggressive campaign of media deregulation. Measures the commission passed last year drew a torrent of criticism from consumer advocates as well as some conservative groups because they gave media companies a freer hand to consolidate.

This summer a Federal Court overturned the rules. Observers question whether a Bush appointed-commission will appeal the ruling and most think a Kerry-commission might return to further regulation.

This episode of our 30 Issues series focuses on the likely affects the different candidates' will have on media consolidation if they are elected. An expert on the matter will assess the scenarios. In the meantim, read more about the various viewpoints on this.

And please email us your thoughts. We'll post the feedback after the show.

Here’s Kerry’s comments in a speech at the <a href="http://www.johnkerry.com/pressroom/speeches/spc_2004_0805.html">UNITY conference in August:

And I will do my part to bring more diversity into the media. Right now people of color make up 32 percent of the nation’s population but only 13 percent of daily newspaper staffs. And people of color represent only a tiny fraction of the number of editors, anchors, and executives at our nation's premier news organizations. Right now only 4.2 percent of radio stations and 1.5 percent of TV stations are owned by minorities. I look around at all the talent in this room and say to the management of these organizations, we can do better.
As president, I will expand opportunities for people of color in the media, by appointing FCC commissioners committed to enforcing equal employment and insuring that small and minority-owned broadcasters are not consolidated into extinction.


Here is FCC Chairman Powell said this at a National Press Club Luncheon last January

If we're going to have a healthy debate in this country about public interest in the media, you would have to have it more than the narrow classification of broadcasters, because 87 percent of Americans subscribe to cable or satellite. What's the public interest in a multimedia world of pay television in abundance? That's the question. So in many ways if this debate is to continue I think it has to get more farsighted.