Press Release

Posted by Mitchell - June 2, 2003 (entry 47)

CMA is sending the following press release to media outlets throughout Chicago:

For Immediate Release
June 2, 2003
Contact: Karen Young


FCC Decision A Blow to American Democracy; Concerned Citizens Vow "This Isn't Over"

Today's decision by the Federal Communications Commission to weaken existing media ownership rules strikes at the heart of American democracy. Passed as expected on a 3-2 party-line vote, the decision will allow a single company to own television stations reaching well over half of the public, to own two or even three TV stations in many markets, and to own both TV stations and newspapers in the same community. The decision benefits the largest media companies, and came despite a deluge of more than 500,000 public comments to the FCC, almost all in opposition. However, local media activists are heartened by the explosive growth of support for the media democracy movement in the weeks before the vote, and plan to redouble their efforts to challenge mainstream media and build support for independent media.

Chicago was one of several cities around the country that passed a resolution opposing the FCC's deregulation push (they include Chicago, Seattle, Philadelphia, Atlanta, San Francisco, and Buffalo, as well as the state of Vermont). The resolution passed 50-0 on May 8, indicating the broad support here for ownership limits. The Midwest Public Forum on Media Ownership, held April 2 at Northwestern University School of Law, was one of eight forums on the issue held around the country and brought concerned citizens together from around the Chicago area. Karen Young of Chicago Media Action (CMA) stated, "As Ted Turner said in his editorial opposing the FCC's decision, this isn't over. June 2 starts the next phase of the media democracy movement. Hundreds of thousands of people all over this country have come together around the understanding that a free press is vital to our democracy. When Trent Lott and Tim Robbins can agree on something, you know it's powerful. Here in Chicago, new bonds have been forged among media activists, the peace movement, and others around this issue. We grow stronger and more united every day, and we will continue to battle for the truth against corporate interests."

As part of its efforts to support independent media voices and build ties among them, Chicago Media Action, Chicago Indymedia and Red Line Radio are sponsoring a celebration of independent media on July 4th called "We the Media." This event will be an opportunity for Chicagoans to learn more about local independent media and entertainment options. It will be held at buddy, 1542 N. Milwaukee. CMA is working with other media activist groups both locally and around the country to build post-June 2 strategies, and expects to announce more initiatives shortly.

The next battle for the media democracy movement may well be over access to television channel capacity. The FCC is currently accepting comments until June 16 on the proposed takeover of the DirectTV satellite service by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation. Jeff Chester of the Center for Digital Democracy said, "Such a combination threatens fair competition in the media industry, the quality and diversity of television programming, and most importantly, the ability of the public to obtain unbiased news in order to participate in our democratic system."

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