Although media deregulation would appear to have not served the public interest, almost incredibly, the FCC is considering EVEN MORE deregulation. The TV creative community, usually at odds with itself, has banded to fight further deregulation:
- The coalition combines directors, writers, actors and producers — groups more often known for strife than unity.
But the new push by frequently divided siblings is grounded in a shared fear that any move by the Federal Communications Commission to allow further consolidation in the TV business would kill jobs and stifle creativity.
“This is really unprecedented,” said Victoria Riskin, president of the Writers Guild of America, West. “It’s remarkable how this one issue seems to have captured the entire community.”
The campaign is being led by guilds and professional organizations that usually are overshadowed in Washington by powerful company groups such as the film industry’s Motion Picture Assn. of America.
This time around, however, members of the creative coalition are aggressively hiring lobbyists, funding economic studies about the evils of consolidation and dispatching high-profile representatives, including “Law and Order” producer Dick Wolf and “The Enforcer” producer Leonard Hill, to Capitol Hill and the FCC.
The campaign pits the guilds squarely against their members’ primary employers, entertainment and media conglomerates such as Viacom Inc. and News Corp., which are pushing to kill government rules that restrict them from buying additional TV stations or mixing ownership of stations and newspapers in a single market, among other things.
….In an effort to raise public awareness, the guilds also persuaded USC and the Columbia University School of Law to host public forums on the issue.
The first forum, featuring FCC Chairman Michael K. Powell and other commissioners, will take place Thursday in New York. USC’s conference is slated for Feb. 18.
The activism stems from a rising belief that concentration of ownership is reducing both creative freedom and business opportunities in television. [LA Times]
The US Senate had some tough questions for Powell yesterday:
- Federal Communications Commission Chairman Michael K. Powell’s deregulatory agenda received a cool reception from a Senate committee yesterday, as several members questioned his plans to rewrite telephone regulations and media ownership rules.
Several senators on the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee expressed concern that the FCC was preparing to relax the rules in ways that would reduce competition, raise rates and allow giant media companies to get even bigger. Committee Chairman Ernest F. Hollings (D-S.C.) had organized the hearing to discuss the state of competition in the telecommunications and media industries before he turns the reins of the committee over to his Republican counterpart, Sen. John McCain of Arizona.
“We are heading in exactly the wrong direction,” said Sen. Byron L. Dorgan (D-N.D.). “You should have your foot on the brake, not your hand on the throttle.”
Powell ran into particularly stiff opposition to an FCC staff proposal that would ease requirements that local phone companies lease parts of their networks to their rivals.
Opponents of the plan, who include Hollings, say the proposal would jeopardize competition in the local phone business just as it begins to take off. [Washington Post]