3 Senators plus Obama rip media mergers

media mergers

Merging Media, a collage by Douglas Millison

Here’s a story that Corporate Media would rather you didn’t read, hear or see. Three U.S. senators have asked the General Accountability Office, the research arm of Congress, to investigate how media mergers affect public discourse.

The letter from Democrator senators Dorgan, Leahy and Kohl is in reaction to a decision by the five-member Federal Commission which voted 3-2 in December to allow media companies to own television stations and newspapers in the same town. Until now federal rules designed to promote open access to “the public airwaves” have limited so-called cross-ownership of broadcast media by print news empires.

The FCC tried to lift the same rule in 2003 but its decision was reversed by a series of congressional and finally court actions. Now Corporate Media is back. It has convinced the FCC that competition from the Internet puts plenty of voices into the public domain. The FCC majority has accepted the Corporate Media argument that merging print and broadcast is the best way to protect the news-gathering muscle that is being lost as newspapers lays off staff to compensate for declining advertising revenues.

Presidential candidate Barak Obama criticized media consolidation in response to a question at a campaign stop in Oregon last week — but I only learned of his unreported remarks by finding a letter critical of the media blackout on the topic.

Actually blackout is the wrong term. I have reported on this. Now so do you. So has MediaPost, Broadcast & Cable, FMQB, TVTechnology and other trade publications aimed at media folks.

It’s just that nobody has told the public.