The Federal Communications Commission has scheduled a sixth hearingÂ in its ongoing media cross-ownership proceedings, givingÂ five days notice to the general public, and thus corroborating fearsÂ thatÂ FCC Chairman Kevin Martin has the votes (aÂ 3-2 republican majority)Â to let mass media consolidate further by amending or repealing the current rules meant to discourage daily newspapers from owning television stations in their same metropolitan area. (My prior encapsulation ofÂ the argument made byÂ mass media that they must get more massive to compete with Web 2.0Â argument is here.)
Â The hearing will occur on Halloween which should put to rest any suspicion that the FCC majority lacks a sense of humor.Â FCC critics, whoÂ found no humor in the choice,Â blasted the five-day notice as beingÂ insufficient. So did the two minority FCC commissioners who suggestedÂ that the majority is rushing to give mass media a Christmas present by letting them satisfy their urge to merge.
The General Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, recently issued aÂ reportÂ critical of the FCC for giving big companies an early peek at its plans and giving the public last minute notice.
Thankfully, however,Â this latest FCC action shows that the commission has taken tha GAO’s criticism to heart. WhileÂ a five-day notice doesn’t leave enough time for the average citizen toÂ get a special deal on a plane ticket (you couldÂ try saying that you’reÂ flying back to watch yourÂ Uncle Sam finally and forever bury yourÂ old Auntie Fairness Doctrine) there is plenty of time for the hippie element that no doubt opposes this consolidation to assemble small teams of rabble rousers,Â load them intoÂ Volkswagen vans and carpool across the nation (probably having sexÂ enroute so it’s all good).
One other thing. I did not see any media coverage of this yet. I may have missed it or the foxes may be guarding other hen houses at the moment. If you do see some coverage, please leave a link in comments. Oh, and if you are one of the folks in the van racing back East, please obey all speed laws and use protection. Safety first, people!