FMC Policy Summit 2010

It’s time for the 10th Anniversary Future of Music Coalition Policy Summit.

TENTH? This event is 10 years old? No way. I was still in Grad School when this event started and that was just…nevermind. Let’s move on.

Musicians can still apply for scholarships to the Summit and anyone who wants to engage or learn more about public policy, music technology, and technology can still buy a ticket.

Come on, get your music & tech policy fix where all the cool kids hang out! The event starts Sunday (the 3rd) and runs through Tuesday (the 5th) – check the website for programming details and panelist bios.

Monday night, there’s a rock show. And not just any rock show, this is a benefit for Dear New Orleans presented by Air Traffic Control and the Future of Music Coalition.

The show is at the Black Cat and tickets (regular and VIP packages) are still available. Check out this partial line-up:

Bonerama with
Damian Kulash of OK Go
Jenny Toomey and Franklin Bruno
Hank Shocklee (of The Bomb Squad, Public Enemy)
Jonny 5 of Flobots
Wonderlick (and half of Too Much Joy!)
Rebecca Gates
Crossover Clarinetist Mariam Adam
plus special guests!

And, of course, I’ll be there (in the audience). How can you possibly resist?

Still need a push? Don’t know who Bonerama are? Here’s video I found (on their website) of them covering “War Pigs” last year in San Francisco.

I tried harder to find video of them covering “When the Levee Breaks” on youtube because that’s more appropriate but all the videos I found sucked so you get this instead. (I did find video from last year’s FMC rockshow but the quality was not so high – a hazzard of recording trombones with a portable cam and then compounding the loss of low-frequency content by playing it back on computer speaker. You can watch it anyway if you want).

I bet you could see them cover it live if you bought a ticket and showed up at the Black Cat Monday night.

Today FCC Commissioner Kevin Martin climbed out of Comcast’s colon long enough to cast the tie-breaking vote in a complaint by users of Comcast’s high speed service who have had their Internet access blocked or otherwise interfered with based on their usage of file-sharing services:

Kevin J. Martin, the commission’s chairman, said the order was meant to set a precedent that Internet providers, and indeed all communications companies, could not keep customers from using their networks the way they see fit unless there is a good reason.

“We are preserving the open character of the Internet,” Mr. Martin said in an interview after the 3-to-2 vote. “We are saying that network operators can’t block people from getting access to any content and any applications.”

The case also highlights the broader issue of whether new legislation is needed to force Internet providers to treat all uses of their networks equally, a concept called network neutrality. Some have urged legislation to make sure that big Internet companies do not discriminate against small companies or those that compete with their video or telephone services.

[read the whole article in the New York Times]

You can read much, much more at the Save the Internet website maintained by the Free Press Action Fund

I’ve discussed the current Administration’s hellbent mission to relax the ownership rules on television, radio and newspapers and the tomfoolery the FCC has been engaged in since 2003, most recently in this post.

In a turn of events too good to believe true, the U.S. Senate, led by North Dakota Senator Byron Dorgan, voted to roll back the media ownership rule the FCC had recently passed with a 3-2 vote.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate Thursday night voted to nullify a Federal Communications Commission rule that allows media companies to own a newspaper and a television station in the same market.

The unusual “resolution of disapproval,” sponsored by Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., and 26 other senators, was approved by a voice vote. The measures sponsors include both Democratic candidates for president, Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York and Barack Obama of Illinois.

…..

The White House is, of course, already pumping out it’s patented brand of misinformation, misdirection and outright lies. Stop Big Media has a piece posted debunking the media ownership lies being propagated by the White House.

The FCC will be holding an Open Commission Hearing tomorrow so that they can vote on the rule changes that will allow massive media consolidation. That fringe group, the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet, recently released a report documenting the FCC’s “failure to uphold its mandate to foster media diversity.” A bipartisan group of U.S. Senators have written a strong letter condemning FCC Commissioner Martin’s railroading of this rule change.

Stopbigmedia.com continues to supply resources and information about media consolidation issues and has a page explaining how you can still take action.

FCC Chairman Kevin J. Martin’s latest proposal regarding relaxing cross-ownership rules sounds pretty rotten. I haven’t yet scrutinized the plan. When I heard that [tag]FCC[/tag] Commissioners [tag]Michael Copps[/tag] and [tag]Jonathan Adelstein[/tag] had strong reservations, it immediately gave me pause.

There’s a short article this morning in the Business section of the Washington Post (How about putting this on the front page where more people will see it?)

“FCC Chief Offers New Plan on Cross-Ownership”

The chairman of the [tag]Federal Communications Commission[/tag] yesterday proposed relaxing an agency rule to allow big-city newspapers to buy the smaller television stations in their markets, a move designed as a compromise in the ongoing issue of corporate control of the airwaves.

The proposal put forward by Chairman [tag]Kevin J. Martin[/tag] appeared to please almost no one — the newspaper industry said it stopped short of helping the ailing print media and anti-consolidation groups said it went too far, with one calling it “yet another massive giveaway to big media.”

Commissioners Copps and Adelstein have a statement on the FCC site, in which they refer to this proposal as “a wolf in sheep’s clothing.” They go on to state:

The Martin rules are clearly not ready for prime time. Under the Chairman’s timetable, we count 19 working days for public comment. That is grossly insufficient. The American people should have a minimum of 90 days to comment, just as manyMembers of Congress have requested. More importantly, the Commission has yet to finish its Localism proceeding, teed up four years ago, or to forward comprehensive ideas to increase women and minorityownership of broadcast outlets.

There is still time to do this the right way. Congress and the thousands of American
citizens we have talked to want a thoughtful and deliberate rulemaking, not an alarming rush to judgment characterized byinsultinglyshort notices for public hearings, inadequate time for public comment, flawed studies and a tainted peer review process –all designed to make sure that the Chairman can deliver a generous gift to Big Media before the holidays. For the rest of us: a lump of coal.

[tag]StopBigMedia.com[/tag] has been posting updates on these developments since this so-called compromise was announced.

[tag]Reclaim the Media[/tag] has a report on the last public hearing on media consolidation, held last week in Seattle. It drew over 1,100 people many of whom spent hours waiting to testify about the potential impact of changing [tag]media consolidation[/tag] rules.

(This post has been edited to correct the link to the pdf advertising the rally. I apologize if you couldn’t download it earlier).

A trick with no treat. The [tag]FCC[/tag] is holding a public hearing on [tag]localism[/tag] on Wednesday, October 31st. The notice was issued on October 24th, not very much notice for citizens who want to make arrangements to attend the hearing. This is sleazy, shady, and reprehensible.

Why am I so agitated?

In 2004, under then-Chairman Michael Powell, the FCC voted on and passed rules allowing mass deregulation of our mass media, a move that could have struck a crushing blow to our democracy. The rules were immediately challenged. The New York Times recapped that challenge in an article just last week (October 17th):

Three years ago, the commission lost a major court challenge to its last effort, led by Michael K. Powell, its chairman at the time, to relax the media ownership rules. The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, in Philadelphia, concluded that the commission had failed to adequately justify the new rules. Mr. Martin’s proposal would presumably include new evidence aimed at fending off similar legal challenges.

Mr. Powell’s effort, which had been supported by lobbyists for broadcasters, newspapers and major media conglomerates, provoked a wave of criticism from a broad coalition of opponents. Among them were the National Organization for Women, the National Rifle Association, the Parents Television Council and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The agency was flooded with nearly three million comments against changing the rules, the most it has ever received in a rule-making process.

[read the whole story]

Current Chairman Kevin Martin has been keeping the faith, attempting to fast-track new deregulation rules. A series of hearings have taken place around the country to allow citizens to voice their opinions about the current state of media in their communities and the impact they foresee from these potential new rules. These hearings have resulted in thousands of citizens turning out to express their opinions about the lack of local and minority voices on the airwaves, the homogenity of music and cultural programming on the airwaves, and the dearth of timely, pertinent information in the event of natural disasters or terrorist attacks.

The New York Times article about Martin’s fast-tracking of this latest round of rule-changing includes Senator Byron Dorgan’s recent statement on the issue:

“This is a big deal because we have way too much concentration of media ownership in the United States,” Senator Byron L. Dorgan, Democrat of North Dakota, said at a hearing on Wednesday called to examine the digital transition of the television industry.

“If the chairman intends to do something by the end of the year,” Mr. Dorgan added, his voice rising, “then there will be a firestorm of protest and I’m going to be carrying the wood.”

Senator Dorgan isn’t the only legislator angry about what’s happening. New York Representative Maurice Hinchey’s website has a press release detailing a letter co-signed by 42 House members and sent to the FCC last night.

In their letter to Martin, the House members argued that the ten studies the FCC commissioned this year to examine various issues associated with media consolidation were seriously flawed. Following up on a letter sent to Martin in September by many of the same House Members, the letter sent today outlines various concerns over the 10 studies, including: “the FCC’s failure to reveal how it recruited individuals to conduct these studies; the agency’s subsequent hiring of one of the authors to be its new chief economist (raising troubling questions regarding conflicts of interest); confusion over how the FCC decided to focus the research on its ten chosen topics; and serious mismanagement of the peer review process that is normally used to guarantee the scientific validity of the generated work.”

The House members also criticized Martin for moving forward with plans for major rules changes before the FCC completes its sixth and final promised public hearing on the current state of media ownership rules and also before the agency takes time to review the comments submitted during those forums. The five previous hearings have been widely attended with people staying late into the evening to voice their concerns over media ownership rules.

“Chairman Martin’s proposal would only serve to further shrink an already limited diversity of opinion found among American news outlets,” Hinchey said, “His plan is the exact opposite of what is needed in this country. The FCC ought to be looking for ways to expand the variety of viewpoints and diversity of ownership rather than limiting and further consolidating them.”

You can read the letter in it’s entirety at the bottom of the press release.

Seattle-based [tag]Reclaim the Media[/tag] has a clear and concise page on this issue.

The Federal rules limiting concentration of media outlets are an integral part of our first amendment and fourth amendment freedoms, guaranteeing our rights to free speech, to hear others’ free speech, and to have a free and independent press, capable of holding powerful institutions accountable to the public interest. In recent years, these rules have been under attack by corporations like Clear Channel, Tribune, and Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., for whom bigger is always better. They get to use the public airwaves for free, but they don’t want to be held accountable to local communities or public service values.

The FCC announced Seattle will be the last city in this round of public hearings. Check the left-hand column of the Reclaim the Media site to see the actions they’re taking to make sure that members of the public who want to speak up are prepared and comfortable with the process. Seattle knows they will be the site of the last hearing, but they haven’t yet been given a firm date, which makes preparation difficult. Not everyone can get out of work or find childcare or arrange transportation on short notice, which limits the range of voices that can be heard at the hearings.

So what can you do? Read the information at [tag]Reclaim the Media[/tag]. Read the proposed rule changes at the FCC website. This is a public hearing. Show up. Listen. Be seen. Attend the rally. (pdf link) Even better, show up and speak out about media consolidation.

Official FCC Localism Hearing
Oct. 31, 2007, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Room TW-C305 following open commission meeting
FCC, 445 12th Street SW, Washington, D.C. 20554

More information about the DC hearing is at Stop Big Media, including a pdf with tips on testifying before the commissioners.

Today we do the Dance of Joy.

In a lengthy decision of over 200 pages, the Third District Court today told the Federal Communications Commission that its attempts to further
deregulate the American media system are unjustified. The court determined that the FCC relied on “irrational assumptions and inconsistencies” in determining the new cross-ownership caps, and ordered them to make a new decision that takes seriously their duty to regulate media to preserve the public interest.

The court’s decision in this case requires the FCC to reverse its controversial June 2003 decision relaxing the regulation of ownership of the newspaper, television and radio industries. Judges faulted the FCC’s methodology in measuring concentration, and rejected the FCC’s argument ownership limits should be removed unless evidence could be shown to warrant their retention. With the burden of proof back on the FCC, consumers groups, parents, activist organizations, and even FCC Commissioner Michael Copps joined Prometheus in celebration of the Court’s decision. “The rush to media consolidation approved by the FCC last June was wrong as a matter of law and policy,” said Commissioner Copps in a released statement. “The commission has a second chance to do the right thing.”

Full text of the release is at: http://www.prometheusradio.org/release_june_24_third_district.doc

Want more?

PDFs from the FCC webite:

Chairman Powell Reacts to Third Circuit Media Ownership Decision.

and

Commissioner Copps Reacts To The Third Circuit’s Media Concentration Decision.

and

Commissioner Adelstein Expresses Strong Support For Recent
Congressional And Court Actions Regarding FCCís Media Ownership Decision.