FCC Should Be Fair to Public, Not Murdoch

So Rupert Murdoch wants a “fair hearing” for his application to be allowed to buy the Los Angeles Times, even though doing so would violate FCC rules barring corporations/individuals from owning more than a certain number of news outlets in any given area.

Jon Stewart Rips Rupert Murdoch For Interest In LA Times http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/29/jon-stewart-rupert-murdoch-la-times_n_2980849.html?utm_hp_ref=media

My question is, why? What’s so special about Rupert Murdoch that he should be allowed to violate the law? Or be above it? Or not have to comply with it? Or be given a path around it?

The Daily Show‘s  Jon Stewart pretty much nailed it when he pointed out that Murdoch is, “petitioning the government to circumvent the media consolidation laws that ‘were created with him in mind.’”

Stewart Torches Rupert Murdoch For Trying To Get Around Media Monopoly Laws ‘Created With Him In Mind’ http://www.mediaite.com/tv/stewart-torches-rupert-murdoch-for-trying-to-get-around-media-monopoly-laws-created-with-him-in-mind/

Murdoch’s News Corp. already owns two Los Angeles TV stations. He might argue that because L.A. has at least three other major commercial English language TV stations, owning the Los Angeles Times wouldn’t create a monopoly. And he might even hold up New York City as an example.

Murdoch owns two New York-area  TV stations and a newspaper, the New York Post. Even though the FCC granted his petition for a waiver so he could own those three news companies, one huge difference between Los Angeles and New York is that Los Angeles, for all intents and purposes, has only one major daily newspaper and that is the Times. The New York Post isn’t that city’s major daily newspaper–far from it. The New York Times is. And even though the Post, which is a shiny-object, hyped-headline tabloid, isn’t the largest daily in New York, that city has other daily newspapers — the New York Daily News and Newsday are two besides the Post and the Times.

It’s bad enough for a large metropolitan area to be served by only one daily — or any publishing frequency — newspaper, but to further shrink residents’ and workers’ options with a single company or individual owning not only that paper, but two or more other news outlets does not benefit anyone except the owner and results in a less informed populace. I know. Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where I live, has only one daily newspaper which is owned by the same corporation that owns one of the four major TV stations and perhaps the most popular radio station. That corporation has a decided editorial point of view and it shows.

Another factor that should be paramount to the FCC as a government agency is that the government needs the news media as much, maybe even more, than the media need the government. That is because commercial news outlets are the primary means available to the government to get important information to the public.

During my years with the Los Angeles courts, an ongoing challenge was to get information to people. The information more often than not concerned programs that benefited court users — or would if they knew about them, hours of operation, jury service, and so much more. At the time, a number of news organizations were available.

Add to Murdoch’s request for a “fair hearing”, is the odorous trail he has strewn across the landscape, particularly in the UK where one of the newspapers he owned there shut down with the editor under suspicion of the unethical, if not illegal — that’s yet to be determined — hacking of private citizens’ and public figures’ email and telephones.

Why in the world would the FCC give special preference to someone with that kind of track record? That agency should to what it was created to do, serve the people. Not clear the way for an already megla-billionaire to further enrich himself at the expense of Southern Californian’s access to a variety and diversity of news sources–unless the commissioners’ have bought into that SCOTUS distortion that in this country money is speech. If so, that money/speech is becoming decidedly obscene. 

 

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