Guide for the National Day of Action, Tuesday, Dec. 4th: Call the FCC to Stop Media Consolidation

BACKGROUND

The Federal Communications Commission could vote at any time in the next two weeks to drastically relax media ownership rules and make it easier for corporations to further consolidate media in our communities.  It would drastically cut down on the number of TV and radio stations owned by women and people of color.  With people of color owning only 5% of TV stations and 8% of radio stations we can't afford policies that further weaken our ability to own and shape our own media.

We know that communities of color, the poor, and women have been vastly underrepresented in the media, both in terms of ownership and participation. To allow further consolidation will make it more difficult for new and diverse voices to find a platform to be heard.  It’s our communities that would be disproportionately affected. 

The FCC wants to gut the 30-year-old broadcast/newspaper cross-ownership rule. That means one company will be allowed to own a daily newspaper, two TV stations and up to eight radio stations in your town. That one company could be your Internet provider, too.

THE CALL-IN ACTION

On Tuesday, December 4TH, MAG-Net members, organizations and media makers around the US will be calling FCC Commissioners Jessica Rosenworcel and Mignon Clyburn to express concern about the proposed rule changes. We are asking the Commissioners to oppose this dangerous proposal. We believe that if they oppose the rule changes Chairman Genachowski will back down.

•    Mignon Clyburn – (202) 418-2100

•    Jessica Rosenworcel –  (202) 418-2400

THE SCRIPT

 (Please feel free to modify):

Hello, I’m calling FCC Commissioner [Clyburn] or [Rosenworcel]’s officeregarding possible upcoming media ownership rule changes. My name is  __________, and I am calling from [Your Organization].  We are members of the Media Action Grassroots Network also know as “MAG-Net”, the national network of over 140 organizations advancing a people centered media justice agenda.  On November 19th, our network jointly sent a letter with National Hispanic Media Coalition to the Chairman’s office voicing our opposition of a proposal that is circulating at the FCC that would drastically relax media ownership rules and make it easier for corporations to further consolidate media in our communities.

Thank you so much for being a continued champion of media justice.  We are calling to ask Commissioner [Clyburn] or [Rosenworcel] to oppose this proposal and first perform the court-ordered analysis of the FCC’s own data on the impact that allowing increased media consolidation would have on communities of color and women.  This data found that people of color own only 5% of TV stations and 8% of radio stations despite comprising 30% of the US population.

Many of our communities do not see our own voices, stories and issues reflected in the current media.  Despite the growing diversity of the U.S. population, that same diversity does not exist in the ownership of TV and radio stations. We really hope the FCC will open up their process and engage the public in this important discussion that could negatively impact the future of media diversity.  Again, we hope Commissioner {Clyburn’s] or [Rosenworcel’s]Office will stand up for the underserved communities that would be affected by this proposal.  We urge the Commissioners to vote NO on the proposal.  Thank you for your time. 

TIPS FOR YOUR CALL

When you make your call you should feel free to tailor the script to your unique position or organization.  Make it local, personal and give some concrete examples of how lack of media ownership diversity or media consolidation might affect you and your community.

No matter what you discuss or what points you make, end your call asking the Commissioners to stand up for media justice and vote no on the proposal.

SOME OTHER SUGGESTED TALKING POINTS

1) We can't afford more media consolidation: Relaxing cross-ownership will put too much media power in the hands of too few people and will mean less local news in our cities and towns.

2) This rule change will hurt media diversity:The way the rule is written will target TV and radio stations owned by women and people of color for further consolidation. The FCC has just released data that illustrates the dismal state of media diversity – this rule change will make that worse.

3) The FCC must open up their process and engage the public:When the Bush FCC tried to push through the same bad rules they held seven public hearings. The last FCC chairman announced his rule change in an op-ed in the New York Times. Chairman Genachowski won't even reveal what is in his proposal.

RESOURCES

Want more info and background about the issues – check out these links. You can use these as templates for letters to the editor, blog posts, press statements and more:

General information about the FCC proposal:

Free Press statement: 

http://www.freepress.net/press-release/100952/free-press-blasts-fcc-plan-gut-ownership-rules-without-public-input-or

Change for the Worse: FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski’s Media-Monopolization Policies vs. Former FCC Chairman Kevin Martin’s Failed Consolidation Proposals: 

http://www.freepress.net/sites/default/files/resources/Martin-vs-Genachowski-final.pdf

Why Is the Obama FCC Plotting a Massive Giveaway to Rupert Murdoch?

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/craig-aaron/why-is-the-obama-fcc-plot_b_2160839.html

Seattle Times editorial: 

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/editorials/2019751774_editfccreportxml.html

How the rule will impact media diversity:

November 19th letter that MAG-Net and National Hispanic Media Coalition sent to the FCC on this proposal:

http://www.mag-net.org/content/letter-fcc-media-diversity

Audio Podcast of Friday's November 30th's "Media Ownership, the FCC and How You Can Take Action This Week!" Strategy Call:

http://www.divshare.com/download/21274749-bce

Article: FCC Abandons Media Diversity: 

http://newamericamedia.org/2012/11/fcc-abandons-diversity-embraces-rupert-murdoch.php

LCCR Letter to the FCC: 

http://www.civilrights.org/advocacy/letters/2012/fcc-letter-media-ownership.html(11/9/12)

NHMC-MAG-Net letter to the FCC: 

http://www.nhmc.org/sites/default/files/NHMC,%20MAG-Net%20Weigh%20In%20On%20Media%20Ownership.pdf

Politifact ranks Obama's promise to foster media diversity as a broken promise: 

http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/promises/obameter/promise/388/encourage-diversity-in-media-ownership/

IN ADDITION IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO DO, YOU CAN ALSO CALL CONGRESS:

If you make a call to the FCC and want to do more, call your member of Congress and try to get them on the record opposing these rule changes.

You find your local Senator and Congressional Representative here:  http://act.freepress.net/call/media_ownership

In 2008 the Senate passed a resolution of disapproval overturning a similar FCC rule change but the House never brought it up for a vote. Here are the Senate co-sponsors: http://benton.org/node/10069 and the House cosponsors: http://benton.org/node/10178. All of these people are on the record opposing this and should be again. 

If you want to call your members of Congress here is a brief script you can use:

If you are calling a member of Congress who cosponsored the Resolution of Disapproval (someone from the two links above) you can use this: 

"In 2008, the senator/representative co-sponsored the Resolution of Disapproval (S.J. Res. 28 or H.J. Res. 79) in opposition to the FCC's attempt to allow more media consolidation. Today the FCC is pushing the same bad rule changes. Will your office go on record opposing more media consolidation?"

If you are calling someone who did not co-sponsor in 2008 or wasn't yet in office, use this version:

I'm calling to urge Rep./Sen. NAME to stop the FCC's new plan to increase media consolidation in the United States. Will your office go on record opposing plans to relax media ownership rules? 

About the Author

Center for Media Justice

Launched in 2008, the Center for Media Justice is building a national movement for media rights, access, and representation powered by the grassroots leadership and cultural strategies of communities of color, low-income families, and social justice organizations.