In 2003 Main Campus was the location
for a Federal Communications Commission public forum on media ownership.Four years later, FCC Commissioner Michael J. Copps said that the FCC is “right back at square one.”
Copps, along with fellow Commissioner
Jonathan S. Adelstein, joined students, faculty and media professionals
for another public forum on media ownership, diversity and consolidation held last Thursday at Gladfelter Hall.
The forum, which was sponsored by the School of Communications and Theater, Temple’s Institute for Public Affairs and Media Tank, a nonprofit media public awareness organization, served as an opportunity to review the Federal Communications Commission’s broadcast ownership rules.
The FCC is required to periodically review its broadcast ownership rules and Philadelphia is one of six cities in geographically diverse locations across the country to hold an FCC public forum.
Copps said more than 3 million Americans contacted the agency in objection of new policies that allow one corporation to dominate local media markets.
Currently, the newly-implemented policies state that a single company can own two major television stations in a large city and, in large markets, one company can own up to eight radio stations.
In response to public disapproval of the policies, the FCC is considering the elimination of at least four rules regarding media ownership. If removed, limits would be lifted on the number of television stations, radio stations or print media outlets that one company can own in a local market.
“When you look at today’s broadcast media landscape, we see hyper-commercialism, rampant homogenization and an unforgivable lack of women and minority ownership, employment and participation,” Adelstein said.
When Adelstein asked the audience if it thought Philadelphia media has been treating them well, the crowd collectively answered with an enthusiastic “No.”
“We forgot the public airwaves belong to the American people,” Adelstein said in response. “If we are going to craft media ownership rules that best serve the public interest, we better hear from the public.”
Following the commissioners’ opening remarks, a panel of eight media professionals discussed the negative implications of media monopolization
on the communication industry. The floor was then opened for comments from the audience. Both Copps and Adelstein listened attentively and took notes as many people gave their personal testimonials.
“It’s a disgrace that with the current regulations on media ownership, there is no form of diversity whatsoever in our media
markets,” said junior BTMM major Greg Nothstein, adding that the pattern of broadcast ownership is also occurring in newspapers and print media.
Nothstein said he was pleased that awareness for this issue was being raised and that Commissioners Copps and Adelstein did a fantastic job of outlining the points of media ownership. Jan Fernback, assistant BTMM professor, also said the forum was successful and hoped that people gained a better understanding on the importance of media ownership issues.
“With a few corporate conglomerates controlling most media outlets in the U.S., audiences are generally subject to only a few perspectives on issues of importance in a free society. This is not reflective of a diverse melting pot,” Fernback said. He also said it is important for everyone to take an interest in the FCC and to take action because it plays a pivotal role in controlling the way Americans communicate
as a mass public.
“The FCC plays a large role in the democratic process, and that affects everyone -Temple students included,”
Fernback said. “We spend massive amounts of time with the media every day and we should all understand the extent to which those media are supposed to serve everyone.”
Chris Stover can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.