Chicago Media Action (CMA) is disappointed that for a third time the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ruled against holding big media accountable to the public. This ruling exposes as a lie the mechanism of broadcast license renewals as a means to keep commercial broadcasters in service to public interests.
CMA's petition to deny License renewals for nine Chicago-area TV stations sought to force broadcasters to fulfill the minimum public service requirement mandated by law in exchange for the right to use public airwaves. CMA provided documentation that those nine stations failed to provide enough coverage of local elections to inform voters of basic candidates and issues. The FCC did not rule based on that undeniable evidence but rather on technicalities. As our case demonstrates, even when presented with compelling evidence the FCC continues to renew licenses to broadcasters who cloud the public airwaves with commercials and infotainment while pushing basic issues of civic life out of view for most citizens.
While circumstances have changed dramatically in commercial television broadcasting since the petition's filing back in November 2005 the FCC continues to value the interests of big media corporations over the interests of a democratic public. Broadcast networks whose profits have collapsed in the past year now question the very idea of continuing broadcast television long into the future. At this critical juncture of the American media environment the FCC could have critically examined the future of broadcasting and the needs of citizens. Instead the agency remains captive to the very media corporations whom the FCC is supposed to regulate. The fact that FCC staffers often go on to lucrative positions at these same media corporations continues to hinder the agency from aggressively enforcing the law in a manner that serves citizens.
CMA will continue our work on this and other fronts, both within the legal system and we will join hands in efforts with those who work and struggle for greater media justice, accountability, and democracy. We thank our colleagues at the Milwaukee Public Interest Media Coalition, our legal counsel at the Media Access Project, and activists of all stripes who work to improve the media.
Here are statements that CMA made previously on our past license petition rejections:
Chicago Media Action statement regarding the FCC's rejection of its 2005 Petition to Deny
Local Media Activists Respond to FCC's Chicago TV License Challenge Denial
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