Tag Archives: FCC

The Digital Divide

television-with-antenna

 

With the looming Feb. 17 analog-to-digital conversion deadline for television sets just a month away, an estimated 19 million Americans are still going it old school, according to former Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairmen William Kennard and Michael Powell. In a New York Times op-ed published over the weekend, they argued that the bulk of those who have yet to convert their sets are minority, low-income or elderly people and the Federal government’s $1.3 billion plan to aid Americans in the upgrading process is poised for failure. An insufficient amount of funds were allocated for the $40 federal stipends designed to assist low-income consumers with the conversion, and a convoluted application process means none of those remaining 19 million will qualify for the coupon before the deadline. In addition, it’s suggested that manufacturers of the digital conversion boxes produced anywhere between 4 to 31 million to few. President Obama has called upon Congress to delay the conversion and the networks seem receptive to a delay. The only major anti-delay advocate appears to be current FCC chairman (and Bush appointee) Kevin Martin but MediaMyopic wouldn’t exactly call the pro-consolidation Republican a voice of moral reason. C’mon Congress, seems like a no-brainer to us.

Debate Duplicity

The ABC debate stage was a little less crowded Saturday night as ’08 presidential hopefuls skipped the event but not necessarily by choice. Democrats Joe Biden and Chris Dodd opted for an early exit after performing poorly in Iowa but gatekeepers at the network, owned by the Walt Disney Co., uninvited Dennis Kucinich and Mike Gravel based on poor polling numbers — a relatively commonplace practice. Though challenged by Kucinich, the plea will likely fall on deaf ears with the FCC. And this is what we call democracy in action: a system of overzealously regulated presidential debates which are completely a product of the candidates, who negotiate all terms with the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD), enabling the two-party system to control content and stifle third-party momentum. Types of questions, time of questioning, rebuttal process, audience demographics — even the arrangement of tables and podiums are agreed upon by the participants. Open Debates, a nonprofit group, has challenged CPD format but the general public remains unaware of the fact that U.S. presidential debates are as rehearsed as Broadway’s Mamma Mia!

Monopoly Under FCC’s Tree

No, we’re not talking about the board game from Hasbro. This is real life and it’s real serious. Just before the holiday, the FCC voted 3-2 (with Republicans obviously in favor) to lift a 30-year old ban on federal law that prevented conglomerates from owning both print media and radio/television networks within the same zip code; meanwhile dismissing testimony from packed public hearings nationwide. In fact, Kevin Martin suggested it was never up for debate when he submitted an op-ed to the New York Times prior to some hearing dates. A Times editorial touches upon the detrimental FCC decision and Martin’s unilateral approach to the vote. Moral of the story: Bush crony #5734 paid off by big business to serve the interest of big business.