News Release

Interviews Available: FCC’s Big Grab?

JANINE JACKSON
Jackson is program director of the media watch group FAIR (Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting), which has objected to the FCC’s proposed rule changes, scheduled to be voted on June 2. The FCC proposals would allow further media consolidation, including cross-ownership between newspapers and TV stations in the same market.
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ROBERT McCHESNEY
Author of Rich Media, Poor Democracy and research professor in the Institute of Communications Research at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, McChesney recently wrote the article “The FCC’s Big Grab.”
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DANNY SCHECHTER
Currently executive director of MediaChannel, Schechter was a news director in commercial radio for 10 years and a producer at ABC and CNN. His most recent book is Media Wars: News at a Time of Terror. He said today: “Every time you think the media situation can’t get any worse, it does. I joined the media to spotlight the problems of the world and realized that it was one of them. Deregulation led to the abolition of my own news department. As consolidation accelerates, local coverage and in-depth reporting are going to evaporate if not disappear.”
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JOSEPH TORRES
Communications director for the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, Torres said today: “More consolidation is going to negatively affect the quality of journalism and the informational needs of our society. Consolidation and bottom line pressure in the media industry will cause the overall quality of news to continue to decline, including coverage of people of color.”
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ANDREA BUFFA
Buffa works with Global Exchange and Media Alliance, groups organizing protests in several cities today at Clear Channel radio stations. She said today: “If you ever wondered why it seems like the same seven songs are playing on every radio station in the U.S., you can thank Clear Channel Communications and its take-over of radio stations after the 1996 media deregulation… Clear Channel was chosen as the target of street protests because it exemplifies the problems that can arise from media deregulation. After the passage of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, Clear Channel gobbled up hundreds of radio stations throughout the country and now owns more than 1,200 stations nationwide. Not only is the company the world’s largest radio broadcaster, it’s also the world’s largest concert promoter and billboard advertising firm.”
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NICHOLAS JOHNSON
A former FCC commissioner and the author of the book How To Talk Back To Your Television Set, Johnson is currently a visiting professor at the University of Iowa College of Law. He said: “We have opted for a system of government licensing for fixed terms, limited terms, to private owners in exchange for their obligation to provide a public service. There is no right to get a license renewed. We should look at their records, see what kind of a job they did in the community, and perhaps give the license to someone else if they would do a better job — not unlike members of Congress getting re-elected. Nobody has a right to get re-elected.”
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BOB WILLIAMS
Senior writer with the Center for Public Integrity, Williams coauthored the recent report “On the Road Again — and Again: FCC officials rack up $2.8 million travel tab with industries they regulate,” which found that FCC commissioners and other staff took over 2,500 industry-sponsored trips since 1995, mostly paid for by corporate telecommunications and broadcast interests. FCC Chairman Michael Powell (son of Colin Powell) traveled the most of any active commissioner.
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167