It’s easy to feel overpowered when
you go up against the big guys. But with power in numbers and the facts on your
side, it is possible for the little guys to win out over the big ones. Wednesday
morning was one of those moments.
It’s not often that the FCC asks us how to do its job. But Sept. 6 is the deadline for the public to respond to a pretty exciting question: “Should we set aside channels for community radio in big and medium-sized cities?”
You don’t hear questions like that every day. In fact, media activists fought for more than a decade to put this idea on the table.
I grew up in California,
spent most of my life there and experienced many earthquakes, including the
deadly 6.9 Loma
Prieta quake of 1989. So the 5.8 earthquake that rattled
Washington, D.C., Tuesday was not (you’ll pardon the
pun) as earth-shaking for me as it was for many people who felt the ground
beneath them move in ways utterly new and foreign.
Last Thursday five
AT&T employees and twelve of its outside attorneys, from six different
firms, got on a conference
call with thirty-two officials from the Federal Communications Commission and
the Department of Justice. All told there were close to 50 people participating
in the meeting.
Two recent reports paint a rosy
picture of local TV news. Stations are launching new programs, jobs are coming
back and revenues are up. Bolstering these reports are stats from the Radio
Television Digital News Association, which called 2010 a record
year for local news.
I just wish that were the whole
picture. However, neither of these reports fully grapples with the impact covert consolidation —
in which a station signs away control of its newsroom to a competitor — is
having on the media ecosystem.