As the FCC prepares to unleash the largest wave of media consolidation in U.S. history, Jeff Chester of the Center for Digital Democracy discusses Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp move to buy satellite TV giant DirecTV.
Today is the final public hearing with FCC commissioners on the proposed rule changes governing media consolidation. The FCC is expected to approve the measures on June 2nd.
Analysts and activists say that adoption of the new rules will unleash the largest round of media consolidation and mergers in U.S. history.
FCC chairman Michael Powell, son of Secretary of State General Powell, is a driving force behind the rule changes. He has the support of the two other republicans on the Commission, and is opposed by the two Democrats.
Several months ago, Democratic Commissioner Michael Copps called on the FCC to conduct public hearings on the changes. Powell refused. Copps said he would hold hearings of his own.
So in January, a coalition of trade unions and media activist groups working in collaboration with Copps held the first public hearing on the issue. As public pressure mounted on Powell, he reversed course and decided to attend at the last minute. Another hearing at the University of Southern California was held in April — which Powell did not attend. The FCC convened a little publicized, official hearing in Richmond, Virginia in February.
The final hearing is today in Atlanta. Democratic Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein will speak, and Democracy Now! will be there.
Meanwhile, media mogul Rupert Murdoch squares off tomorrow against consumer advocate Gene Kimmelman, before the Senate Commerce Committee.
At issue is whether the FCC and the Justice Department should allow Rupert Murdoch to buy DirecTV, the satellite TV service that has 11 million subscribers. Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp already owns 35 broadcast TV stations and major cable channels like Fox News, Fox Sports and National Geographic TV.
- Jeffrey Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy and author of the new article “Rupert Murdoch’s Digital Death Star” which appears on Alternet.org.