The FCC’s Public Farce

John at DIYmedia.net accurately sizes up the “hearing” on media ownership rules that the FCC is throwing in (at?) Richmond, VA today:

“The ‘hearing’ has become a ‘forum,’ with an hour-long introductory performance, three 50-minute panel discussions and an hour for lunch. The panels are packed with “experts” – scholars, media executives, professional journalists, and inside-the-Beltway public interest advocates (read: lobbyists with consciences). In other words, these are the same people that have been discussing the issues of media ownership among themselves the whole f*cking time, mostly in private. …

“Just from a mathematical standpoint, the fact that only 90 minutes of this six-hour event is actually devoted to public comment sucks large ass and says a lot. It also validates a view I’ve held throughout this whole farce – that it is a farce.

“Folks, I hate to be a party pooper here, but the FCC committed to the changes it will make to the media ownership rules before this whole rulemaking even got rolling. The recent and sudden outburst of publicity and faux attention is window-dressing to give the changes a sense of legitimacy. …”

But, admit it, John, you love to be a party pooper.

According to the only press account of the “public forum” so far (according to Google News) it looks like indeed the same old tired arguments from the same lobbyists, corporate shills and pundits have been rolled out with little, if anything new. I haven’t had either the time nor the stomach to sit through the FCC’s webcast of the event, but perhaps we’ll be able to glean some more substantive highlights by tomorrow.

3 Responses to The FCC’s Public Farce

  1. John Anderson February 27, 2003 at 6:41 pm #

    ” I haven’t had either the time nor the stomach to sit through the FCC’s webcast of the event, but perhaps we’ll be able to glean some more substantive highlights by tomorrow. ”

    Better you than me – then I can karmically link back to your coverage.

    -mr. pooper

  2. Lydia February 28, 2003 at 9:37 am #

    If you try that same search now you’ll see that there are more accounts available– from Newsday, the L.A. Times, the Associated Press, the Washington Post, and more. Nonetheless, the fact that only 90 minutes was devoted to really hearing from “the public” is notable. Thanks for bringing that to my attention.

    The one thing that worries me is that when people dress up in funny costumes, whether it’s meant to be an “artistic protest” or “a challenge to the system,” or whatever, it will never get reported that way. The mainstream media is always going to end up saying “…and some people showed up in funny costumes.” The time it takes for a reporter to add in that meaningless but cute detail is time taken away from reporting on what the woman who runs a day care facility had to say. And it will be easy for some commentator to talk about how the “only” people opposed to “the ‘free’ market” are people wearing funny costumes. Whether it’s deserved or not, why give them ammunition?

    So, in other words, the funny costumes may be a feel-good way of pepping up spirits, but it may hurt the broader cause.

  3. Paul February 28, 2003 at 12:34 pm #

    Lydia, I understand your concern, but my concern is that we’re playing a game with loaded dice — but we didn’t load them.

    The FCC turns a hearing — where people are supposed to come testify — into public forum which is really more like a panel with speakers. The public input is squeezed right out. So, when we play their game, we get screwed.

    We’re playing their game when we act all nice and normal for the reporters, but that doesn’t guarantee that they’ll cover us or cover us fairly.

    In any event we have to prostitute ourselves for the FCC and prostitute ourselves for the mainstream press — play their game by their rules in the hope that maybe we can beg for a few more crumbs.

    People dress up in funny costumes because the whole proceeding is a farce. But the mainstream press really doesn’t even want to cover it as anything but a business story. The damage is done because we’re at their mercy and are begging for scraps, not because the guy in a funny costume gets two sentences of coverage.

    The real fight here is – why isn’t this front page news deserving of more than a few column inches? Why are we left fighting over scraps?

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