FCC’s Public Hearing on Localism in Portland, Maine – 06/28/07

Local media and the FCC
by Dan Kennedy
Media Nation

As an issue, corporate media consolidation is important and interesting. As the subject of a seven-hour hearing before the Federal Communications Commission — eh, not so much. Thus it was with some trepidation that I headed to Portland, Maine, Thursday for the latest in a series of FCC hearings on local content in the broadcast media.

The hearings have their roots in a 2003 ruling by the FCC — then chaired by the deregulation-obsessed Michael Powell — to remove what few restraints on media ownership were still in effect. The most significant changes Powell wanted to make would have allowed a single corporation to own television stations reaching 45 percent of the national market, up from 35 percent; and permitted a company to own a daily newspaper and a television or radio station in the same market, an arrangement known as “cross-ownership.”

To the amazement of long-embattled media reformers, Powell’s proposal sparked a public outcry, and the scheme was stopped dead in its tracks by both Congress and the courts. (Actually, the national-audience cap was raised to 39 percent, which just happened to coincide with the reach of Rupert Muroch’s television stations.) The localism hearings — one of a series of six — are intended as an information-gathering exercise before the FCC considers ownership regulations once again.

Thursday’s hearing, attended by several hundred people in the Portland High School auditorium, was a gargantuan exercise in public discussion. The commissioners spoke. Politicians or their stand-ins spoke. There was a 12-member afternoon panel and an 11-member evening panel. Anyone who wished could sign up to deliver a two-minute statement; the list had reached 142 the last time I looked. Gregory Kesich’s account in the Portland Press Herald hits the highlights, which is as good as you can expect in covering such an unwieldy event.   —>

Mainers have say on media outlets
At an FCC hearing, radio and TV employees defend their public service record, while others are skeptical
by Gregory D. Kesich
Portland Press Herald (ME)

Mainers were asked to speak for the country about news media performance Thursday night when the Federal Communications Commission held a rare public hearing at Portland High School.  The federal agency that licenses television and radio stations is gathering views on how local media perform their public service obligation in an era when more outlets are owned by out-of-state corporations. Public comment will be used to shape proposed policy changes that could further relax or restrict ownership arrangements.  Thursday’s hearing was attended by several hundred people, 150 of whom signed up to make two-minute statements to the commissioners.   —>

Broadcasters lose grip on local news
Radio and television stations in Maine do plenty of good works, but their core mission should be journalism
Portland Press Herald (ME)
by Ryan Blethen

Localism, like many isms, means different things to different  people. This was apparent Thursday night in the auditorium of a Maine high school.   The Federal Communications Commission held a hearing at  Portland High School to find out what the public thought of how well broadcasters are serving their community. If the two  Republican and two Democratic commissioners were not listening closely, they heard a mixed message.

Maine’s broadcasters did a fantastic job getting their employees, station managers, and charitable organizations to testify to their hyper-local identities. The other half of the nearly 200 people who drifted in and out of the auditorium were clearly disgusted  with the local offerings on the airwaves.   —>

FCC has hearing as state promotes rural broadband
Sun Journal (ME)

PORTLAND (AP) – The Federal Communications Commission opened a seven-hour hearing Thursday to obtain public input on how broadcasters are fulfilling their public service responsibilities at a time when most local media has come under out-of-state ownership.  The hearing at Portland High School provided members of the public with a rare opportunity to offer feedback to the agency that regulates the broadcast industry.

Four of the five commissioners attended the hearing on localism, with two expressing concerns in prepared opening remarks about a loss of public interest protections arising from such changes as loosened ownership restrictions and a “rubber-stamp” license renewal process.  The selection of Portland as one of six cities to have a hearing before the full commission was sought by Sen. Olympia Snowe, a member of the Senate Commerce Commission that has oversight over broadcasting issues.   —>

Portland Speaks Out for Local Media, Against Consolidation
Hundreds Turn Out for First FCC Hearing on Localism Since 2004
Maine Today

PORTLAND, Maine — More than 200 people attended an official Federal Communications Commission hearing on localism Thursday, packing into the Portland High School auditorium to express their frustration with the dwindling number of locally owned radio and television stations.   —>

Industry, Public Get Vocal About Local
Broadcast Newsroom

A current broadcaster and ex-broadcaster provided very different views of the state of localism at a Portland, Me., hearing Thursday.   —>

compiled by Rob McCausland
Dir., Information & Organizing Services
Alliance for Community Media

Explore posts in the same categories: broadband policy, community media, FCC, media reform

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