They're already bigger than they ought to be, but Big Media wants to get even bigger and FCC chairman Kevin Martin is doing his best to quietly aid and abet the cause:
Stopping the press barons, by Robert McChesney, Guardian: Yesterday, the New York Times revealed that Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman Kevin Martin is rushing through a plan to rewrite media ownership rules by the end of the year, making it possible for the biggest media companies to continue their march toward consolidation. And he's doing it without giving the public a fair chance to respond.
The FCC under then-chairman Michael Powell tried to do this in 2003, and nearly 3 million people rose up in protest. This massive public outcry forced ... the agency back to the drawing board. But in a move that even Powell calls "courageous," Martin is trying to quickly and quietly ram through this massive giveaway before the Bush administration leaves office. ...
During his tenure at the FCC, Martin has consistently gamed the regulatory process - hiding research, leaking sensitive information to industry lobbyists, pushing forward a biased research agenda and making critical decisions in secret - while putting up an official façade of proper procedure.
Fortunately, some members of Congress have had enough of this regulatory subterfuge. Democratic senator Byron Dorgan of North Dakota ... teamed up with Mississippi Republican senator Trent Lott in a letter warning Martin to "slow down" and "proceed with caution."...
These senators prove that media is not a left-right issue, but one of concern to people from all walks of life. It is simply unacceptable for a self-governing people to tolerate any public policies that reduce the diversity of opinion in our democracy. ...
Americans ... frustrated by what is happening to news and journalism in this country ... witness every day how celebrity nonsense, talking head shouting matches and glorified stenography dominate the news.
The poverty of news content is not the fault of work-a-day journalists - among the most hardworking people on the planet. The problem sits squarely on the shoulders of public policies that make it good business to form massive media conglomerates whose mission is to cut costs, shed reporters and reduce output to the lowest common denominator.
But when the spotlight is put on the process, the public interest always wins. It is why corrupt insiders work so hard to keep the policymaking process hidden behind closed doors, and then try to pollute public discourse with the most outrageous, misleading propaganda.
Media ownership is a citizen issue of urgent importance - consolidation is a one-way street and there's no turning back. Rich media equals poor democracy.
You can't take your eyes off Bush appointees even for a moment, can you? We need more competition in this industry, not less, that's pretty clear.