Tuesday, May 27, 2003

I'm sorry, Mr. Powell, but less isn't more ...

Michael Powell think’s he knows what’s best for you.

The son of Secretery of State Colin Powell seems to have mastered a core Republican philosophy: We’re safer without safeguards.

The junior Powell heads up a little organization called the Federal Communications Commission, or FCC.

That government entity wants to do away with rules dating back 60 years that state the your local media can’t be wholly owned by one company.

Rupert Murdoch also wants to do away with those rules and I must admit, I’m bound to dislike anything that brings News Corp. or Fox News Channel (unofficial motto: We distort. We deride) joy. And if Murdoch and a group of Republicans all like something, then it must be evil.

Anyway, back to the FCC rules.

They seperated my two current employers several years ago.

WLVL, of course, used to be WUSJ and was owned by the Corson family, the same family that owned this paper at the time.

The thought back then was that if there were too few owners in a media market, it would stifle the potential diversity of opinion.

Now the FCC is trying to redefine “media market.”

They — under Mikey Powell’s leadership — want to say that since the advent of the internet and satellite, there is plenty of diversity to go around. And if there are less owners of “traditional” media companies, you and I wouldn’t even notice.

Many lawmakers, mainly Republicans, also support easing the rules, believing they are outdated and limit the ability of companies to grow and stay competitive.

Apparently, it’s easier to be competitive if there’s no competition.

Recently the FCC softened rules for radio ownerships. That softening lead to three companies gobbling up half the radio stations in the entire country.

Locally, just look at the Buffalo radio market. Are there any stations left that Entercom doesn’t own?

But Powell and the Republicans on the FCC board think that if they ease the restrictions your life will get better.

Here’s their line of thinking: Allowing companies to own several radio stations, television stations, newspapers, or a combination of the three, will give those companies greater flexability and empower them to get you better programming.

It follows, like I said, with the basic Republican philosophy that safeguards prevent safety — kind of like the EPA cleaning up the environment by allowing more carcinogens in that environment.

If you think that buying cigarettes for kids is a good way to keep them from smoking, then this Republican-controlled FCC plan is for you. If not, call your congressman or senator and ask them to pass your opinion on to the commission. Both Democrats on the commission oppose it and one of the three Republicans — Kevin Martin — I’ve heard is on the fence.

They’re expected to make a decision on this matter on June 2, and while you may noticed that the government hasn’t asked for your opinion on the matter, I think it’s vital that you give it.