Welcome to the Free Press blog! We post several times a week on everything from Internet access to free speech to media mergers, so check back often to see what we’re up to.

  • Covert Consolidation Hall of Shame

    August 2, 2011

    Covert consolidation is even more pervasive than we realized. When Free Press launched last month, the site’s interactive map featured 80 markets where two or more stations entered into resource-sharing agreements and, in essence, merged their news operations. These agreements may not technically qualify as mergers under FCC rules because broadcasters claim they are not transferring control of the license, but the effect is the same:  increased profits for station owners at the expense of competition and independent, local journalism.

  • The FCC Proposes to Expose Astroturf Through Ex Parte Reform

    July 29, 2011

    The Federal Communications Commission’s ex parte procedures allow companies, advocacy groups and real people to visit with FCC staff or write to the agency on important topics, provided they disclose publicly what was said in those meetings and filings. The ex parte process may seem obscure to most people, but these meetings have a significant impact on FCC decisionmaking.

  • AT&T to America: Let Us Take Over and We’ll Give You All Broadband

    July 28, 2011

    For most of the twentieth century, AT&T held a monopoly over telephone service in the United States. National sentiment at the time could best be characterized by comedienne Lily Tomlin’s puckish character Ernestine, an employee of the “Phone Company,” who famously taunted audiences: “The next time you complain about your phone service, why don't you try using two cups with a string?

  • "Hello Kettle? It's the Pot Calling ... " Nexstar's Ironic Monopoly Challenge

    July 27, 2011

    Major media companies don't often like to use the "M" word (monopoly) to describe their competition. After all, it might draw attention to their own vast media holdings. But this week, Nexstar Broadcasting Group, Inc. couldn't hold back, and flung the word against Granite Broadcasting Corporation -- along with an antitrust lawsuit. 

  • Washington Slowly Wakes Up from AT&T's Bad Dream

    July 21, 2011

    Congress may be finally waking up to the obvious: that the massive merger of AT&T with T-Mobile just doesn't make sense.

    No amount of contributions from AT&T, or visits from AT&T lobbyists, will alter this simple truth.

  • More News is Less News

    July 19, 2011

    It's a record-breaking year for TV news. The average television station is now airing an average of 5.18 hours of local news – an increase of 18 minutes from last year – according to an RTDNA/Hofstra University annual survey.

    But let's not prematurely celebrate this increase in quantity without first asking: Is anyone measuring the quality of this news coverage? Do additional minutes on the news clock actually make viewers more informed? Are TV stations using this added time to air important, ground-breaking news stories?

  • AT&T and T-Mobile: Fewer Jobs, Less Investment

    July 14, 2011

    This week the Washington Post's Cecilia Kang reported that the Obama Administration is feeling "caught in the middle" between consumer advocates — like Free Press — who oppose AT&T's takeover of T-Mobile, and labor unions

  • What's Behind Newport TV's Covert Consolidation?

    July 14, 2011

    When Free Press’ Change the Channels initiative shined an uncomfortable spotlight on Newport TV’s business practices, the company responded with threats and demanded that YouTube take down our video exposing it. In the week since, buzz has been building around how Newport used a baseless copyright threat to try to silence a critic.

    The Change the Channels campaign highlights covert consolidation going on in over 80 communities involving 200 stations. It is worth looking into why Newport reacted so strongly to being identified as a covert consolidator. 

  • The Trouble with Rupert

    July 12, 2011

    There are many reasons that the scandal that's engulfing Rupert Murdoch has riveted public attention over the last seven days. It's a story that features all of the classic elements: twists of fate, betrayal, deception, abuse of power, and, even, murder.

    But beneath Murdoch's meltdown lies a bigger problem, and its one that's not confined to the United Kingdom. It plagues all consolidated news organizations that reach a certain size and stature, but especially News Corp: The problem of media that get too cozy with power.


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= Positive Change for the Public Good

people + policy = Positive Change for the Public Good