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NCC Commission Opposes Media Concentration
The upcoming decision of the Federal Communications Commission relaxing rules on media ownership is opposed by the Communication Commission of the National Council of Churches
The Communication Commission of the National Council of Churches
May 20, 2003
The Honorable George W. Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President:
As you know, there is a landmark proposal before the Federal Communication Commission to raise the cap for network ownership of local television stations from 35% of the nation’s viewing market to 45%. We write asking you to join with millions of your fellow Americans who oppose the FCC’s plans to further nationalize the broadcast industry in this way.
Congress has intentionally structured our nation’s broadcast system to serve the interests of local communities. When it placed the current cap on network ownership of local stations at 35%, our government recognized the importance of preserving the ability of local stations to reflect the values of their local viewers, and of encouraging the widest diversity of views and programs.
Under the provisions of the present cap, the national networks have extended their market dominance – and profits – by acquiring more and more local stations. At the same time, the moral content and quality of network programming has continued to deteriorate. As a result, many local, non-network-owned stations have refused to carry certain network programs because the content of these shows did not meet local community standards. By contrast, the networks have not documented one case where a network-owned station rejected such a TV program because of local preference.
The consolidation of ownership of local stations into the hands of a few large corporations has served to limit the variety of viewpoints speaking to important issues at both the local and national level. This becomes a matter of special concern when some of those corporations own both the local carriers and the network producers of the national news programs on which our citizens depend for reliable information. Allowing these networks also to control local news coverage makes for not only less diversity but heightens the potential for manipulation of public opinion. Continuing to concentrate this power in a few corporate hands could threaten the American democracy itself.
We join with Congressman Richard Burr and Senator Ted Stevens in pressing the FCC to keep the television ownership cap at 35%. We hope that you will listen to the voices of local viewers across America who depend upon our broadcast system to provide them with reliable, responsive local channels through which to exercise the American style of participatory citizenship.
Wesley M. Pattillo, Executive Director, Communication Commission of the National Council of Churches
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