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Court Blocks FCC Media Ownership Rules

Hemos posted more than 10 years ago | from the good-move-or-bad? dept.

The Courts 85

Dr. Mu writes "According to this story in today's Seattle Times, 'The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia blocked implementation of FCC regulations that would have allowed companies to own more radio and television stations in the same market, and directed the agency to rewrite the rules.' In the interim, the FCC has already granted waivers to the old (1975) rules. It's unclear whether these waivers will now be revoked. Nonetheless, this ruling spells relief for smaller media interests and the diversity they provide."

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me cago (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9536931)

en estados unidos.

Re:me cago (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9537165)

And we have to clean it up, as usual....

Hard to tell what to think. (3, Insightful)

Mr. Gorsky (592739) | more than 10 years ago | (#9536934)

I don't know whether I should be happy that judges seem to be tapping the brakes on the kleptocracy, or sad that the judiciary is interfering with regulatory bodies appointed by (nominally) elected officials.

Re:Hard to tell what to think. (5, Insightful)

rking (32070) | more than 10 years ago | (#9537022)

I don't know whether I should be happy that judges seem to be tapping the brakes on the kleptocracy, or sad that the judiciary is interfering with regulatory bodies appointed by (nominally) elected officials.

The judges are also appointed by (nominally) elected officials and their job is to interpret the laws. In this case they found that the FCC had not fully complied with the laws created by the (nominally) elected officials and as such that their actions were invalid. The (nominally) elected officials can go and change the laws if they so desire, or the FCC can try again. The judges seem to be doing their job.

Re:Hard to tell what to think. (1)

Mr. Gorsky (592739) | more than 10 years ago | (#9537119)

The difference is that Federal judges are not directly elected by the people and are thus not directly accountable. Often, they have long or even lifetime appointments and cannot be fired.

Re:Hard to tell what to think. (4, Insightful)

DarkFencer (260473) | more than 10 years ago | (#9537140)

That is the WHOLE point. They are not beholden to the political powers, they do not have to campaign, fundraise, watch polls, etc.

They do (almost universally) what they believe is right, not what will make them popular. You may not agree with a federal/supreme judge's interpretations of course, but that is our right.

Re:Hard to tell what to think. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9537203)

They sure do seem to show a lot of loyalty to the parties who appointed them, though--look at the 5-4 ruling against the Fourth amendment the other day.

Re:Hard to tell what to think. (1)

Esion Modnar (632431) | more than 10 years ago | (#9538048)

They are not beholden to the political powers, they do not have to campaign, fundraise, watch polls, etc.

Which is why it is easier to call any money given to a judge, a bribe. That same money to a politician is euphemistically known as a "campaign contribution."

Not to say that judges have not been bribed, but once caught, they can't hide behind labels.

Re:Hard to tell what to think. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9539657)

WOW no wonder everyone hates the USofA
their fucking courts protect the citizens!
no way man, in Gondawandaland our courts protect me and my family, the plebs can fuck off and die in the corner, big guys like me...blah blah blah

Re:Hard to tell what to think. (2, Interesting)

value_added (719364) | more than 10 years ago | (#9537204)

What would make us all really happy is if we, as ordinary citizens, would have available the same legal manoeuvering as corporations.

"Officer, I request a temporary waiver from Vehicle Code 22348 because I'm running late for work and my boss is going to kill me." Or, if that doesn't fly, "Your honour, I request an exemption from the implementation of this fine."

What? A legal ruling *against* the interests... (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9536940)

...of the big media conglomerates?

Isn't that one of the signs of the apocalypse?

Re:What? A legal ruling *against* the interests... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9537320)

That's what the news programs on the big media conglomerates are saying. Must be true then.

Wow... (5, Funny)

XeRXeS-TCN (788834) | more than 10 years ago | (#9536942)

A decision made to *prevent* monopolies? What's the world coming to! We'll be disbanding Microsoft before you know it!

Re:Wow... (1)

GTsquirrel42 (624871) | more than 10 years ago | (#9536994)

Who hasn't already?!? I mean really....

Re:Wow... (2, Interesting)

StupidHelpDeskGuy (636955) | more than 10 years ago | (#9537476)

In all seriousness, check out this quote from the article

"The decision was a victory for public-interest groups and consumers who flooded the FCC with more than 2 million letters, e-mails and faxes criticizing the regulations."

I find it more interesting that we had a say in that decision. I wonder how many of those were /.er's?

Finally.. (3, Insightful)

Maxite (782150) | more than 10 years ago | (#9536952)

The FCC is finally getting told what it's limits are.

Regulatory Paralysis (2, Insightful)

Detritus (11846) | more than 10 years ago | (#9537224)

The problem is that every time the FCC issues new rules that affect large corporate interests, whether they're good or bad rules, the corporations immediately go to the federal courts in an attempt to stall or overturn the rules that they don't like. This can take years, even if the FCC prevails.

How would you like to live in a world where everyone had a staff of lawyers on retainer, and insisted on litigating every little problem in their life?

Re:Regulatory Paralysis (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 10 years ago | (#9540997)

That depends whether I was a lawyer or not!

Re:Finally.. (1)

crackshoe (751995) | more than 10 years ago | (#9537961)

something that the fcc refuses to do for broadcasters, no less.

Re:Finally.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9540590)

what it's limits are.

No apostrophe.

appeal? (4, Insightful)

maxbang (598632) | more than 10 years ago | (#9536959)

This is great an all, but is it possible for a higher court to reverse this ruling? I'm assuming the current broadcast oligopoly will not take this sitting down.

Re:appeal? (1)

akb (39826) | more than 10 years ago | (#9537406)

The next court of appeal is the Supreme Court.

Re:appeal? (1)

MsGeek (162936) | more than 10 years ago | (#9537801)

Which, alas, is likely to reverse this decision.

Re:appeal? (1)

falcon9x (618587) | more than 10 years ago | (#9537694)

This is the best news I've heard all day. All week? All month? WOOHOO! Anyways, to answer your question:
This is great an all, but is it possible for a higher court to reverse this ruling? I'm assuming the current broadcast oligopoly will not take this sitting down.
Yes it is possible. However one has to look at who will be appealing. It would be the "Bush Administration" or the FCC (according to the article). Now with this being election year, and this issue causing a huge public backlash politically, I'm not sure if they will appeal (at least not before November). One could take a close look at this issue to see how the good ol' George feel confident in winning the election. If they don't appeal before Election Day, there's a very good chance the Bush is waiting so as to not abandon voters. If they do appeal before Election Day, its either:

a) they don't care about the voters because they will:
1) stay in office anyway
2) the media guys paid them so much that they don't care (in this case I would think (1))


b) they are so confident in winning that it doesn't matter what they do.

I personally think (and hope) that they will not appeal.
Sorry in advance for the bad formatting.

A full Apellate Review is possible (2, Interesting)

KarmaOverDogma (681451) | more than 10 years ago | (#9538166)

but unlikely, should Chariman Powell decide to pursue it. This would involve all 12 judges at the 3rd circuit (there are 14 seats but two are vacant) reviewing the case, on the grounds that the standard appellate review was somehow flawed and/or unconstitutional.

Failing that, there is, of course, The United States Supreme Court.

Basically, according to London's Financial Times: the "...appeals court banned the FCC from implementing the controversial rules until the agency redrafted them or provided better justification for the limits it chose."

It is important to note that the court of appeals took several distinct and seperate issues with the reasoning behind FCC's new rules regarding further media consolidation, such as how it chose to define reasonable competition, and its data collection methods.

Even if the Supreme Court does decide to take up the case (unlikey, especially failing a full appellate review first) there is a high degree of likelihood they will simply send the case back to the apellate court for "further" review in a manner specified by the Supreme Court.

By the time all of this rolls around, we may have a new president and, therefore, a new FCC chairman as well.

In short, it will be a long time before further media consolidation takes place as currently propsed.

In other news... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9536966)

...the FCC will be bought out by the SEC which was recently acquired by the FBI.

Re:In other news... (1)

Crash Culligan (227354) | more than 10 years ago | (#9537492)

...the FCC will be bought out by the SEC which was recently acquired by the FBI.
...which means that the FCC is controlled by the SEC, which is controlled by the FBI (along with the Boy Sprouts and the Nephews of God), which is controlled by <fnord />.

If they take control of Big Media next, and then play Bailout... Nooooo, damnit!! They're going to Immenantize the Eschaton before me!!

Quick, who's got transferrable power to help out with an Attack to Neutralize?

Still will be difficult to compete! (3, Insightful)

f1ipf10p (676890) | more than 10 years ago | (#9536970)

As good as this news is, I still do not expect my local access guy to be able to compete with the likes of Rupert Murdoch or Ted Turner. Free press is getting tougher and tougher. At least there is the internet...

Re:Still will be difficult to compete! (4, Insightful)

maxbang (598632) | more than 10 years ago | (#9536998)

At least there is the internet.

There was hope that anyone could compete with the big boys at the beginning of the internet age, but thanks to lobbied legislation we've seen those options become marginalized. Sure, it's pretty hard to control the net, but they're trying, man. And that is very disquieting.

Re:Still will be difficult to compete! (1)

mattkinabrewmindspri (538862) | more than 10 years ago | (#9540364)

Who owns Slashdot?

Re:Still will be difficult to compete! (1)

base3 (539820) | more than 10 years ago | (#9537011)

But at least the local access guy can't be totally locked out of the airwaves by the likes of Rupert Murdoch or Ted Turner, so there's some chance he can be heard.

What's so good? (1)

mi (197448) | more than 10 years ago | (#9537247)

As good as this news is...

What's so good about this news? The old laws, which FCC tried to change, essentially, made certain properties unsellable.

At least there is the internet...

Exactly! So the old illiberal arguments about the public's need (and thus -- right) to force media companies to be independent hold even less water -- the Internet sources of news and views are abundant and available.

It's about time (3, Informative)

bool morpheus() (689231) | more than 10 years ago | (#9536982)

I'm glad to see it. I'm not sure about anywhere else, but it seems like Clearchannel owns my entire city... I'd like to see some indie TV stations or something start up and not be squashed.

Re:It's about time (5, Interesting)

maxbang (598632) | more than 10 years ago | (#9537031)

Heh - I grew up in a small town in Wyoming. After moving to Minneapolis, I was very exicted about the radio. That feeling lasted for precisely one week. Every morning personality is a clone of each other (think Simpson's KBBL morning schwag), the music loops worse than a bad house mix, and the stations shuffle formats faster than a newbie fdisker. Thanks to my Neuros I have long last relief and a little radio in my pocket. I think clearchannel and disney own something like 90% of Twin Cities radio. The only thing worth listening to is KFAI, listener supported radio.

Re:It's about time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9537145)

Been a few years since I was in 'the cities', but, for the most part, what you describe is what I recall. The only thing I could take for more than about 3 minutes was Radio-K.

Re:It's about time (1)

BenFranske (646563) | more than 10 years ago | (#9538692)

KSTP is a locally owned station in 'the cities'

Re:It's about time (1, Funny)

bugmenot (788326) | more than 10 years ago | (#9537138)

This ruling will hurt us in the long run.
Industry consolidation is good for the overall economy as it improves the economies of scale and productivity. Having a fragmented market will reduce the number of available choices in rural areas and further isolate these areas.

It's about damn time! (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9536985)

Mod me as a troll if you want to, but this is needed!

With the the big radio corporations eating up radio stations left and right, the only thing we have left is 10 minute stop sets (commercial breaks) and "playlists" of songs that are cookie cutter.

If there were only a way to get things back to where they were back in the early-mid 90's where it was MUSIC played on a radio station, not voice tracked half assed talent, piped in morning shows from across the country, and corporate demanded commercials.

I mean, not everywhere has a AutoZone, Valero Diamond Shamrock, etc....

I know it'll be impossible to go back to MY glory dys of radio, but at least we can make sure that what has happend to create this beast, can be restrained.


Now, if other states could only learn a leason from this.... /disgruntled jock

Re:It's about damn time! (4, Insightful)

RobotRunAmok (595286) | more than 10 years ago | (#9537126)

I know it'll be impossible to go back to MY glory dys of radio

Glory Days? You want Glory Days?

Mid-Seventies, NY Metro Area. Top 40 on AM with people like Dan Ingram and Cousin Brucie. Totally free-form jock-plays-whatever-suits-him with people like Scott Muni, Vin Scelsa, and Alison Steele. WPIX!!! ("From Elvis to Elvis") WQIV broadcasting in quadrophonic! Jazz up the yin-yang, from non-commercial through commercial stations, from Basie through Miles and up through Euro-Synth and Su Ra. All-Disco stations. All-Punk overnights. Live remotes nightly (or so it seemed) from CBGB's, the Bottom Line, Max's, uptown dinner-clubs and Irish pubs.

It was amazing. Intoxicating. And we didn't know it could ever be any other way.

Of course, in those medieval times, we actually bought records, with real money, in a record store. Music on the radio was diverse and good, and it was free, and if we wanted to own some of it we paid for it. Now, music on the radio is all the same crap, and the RIAA complains that nobody is paying for what they own.

There's a chicken-and-egg scenario here someplace, but I leave that to clearer heads to dope out...

Re:It's about damn time! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9537437)

RIP Alison Steele ...

Re:It's about damn time! (1)

OTR Dave (681260) | more than 10 years ago | (#9543372)

While you're at it, RIP Joe Niagra, a veritable icon for Philly radio [] .

And RIP DECENT radio, killed by the concepts of "format-of-the-minute", satellite (who needs local talent?) feeds, 20 cut cookie-cutter music lists, 30 minute (advertising) hours, talk radio, and Clear Channel.

Re:It's about damn time! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9551785)

AM Radio

The VCR and the DVD / There wasn't none of that crap / Back in 1970
We didn't know about / A world wide web
It was a whole different game being played / Back when I was a kid
You wanna get down / In a cool way?
Just picture yourself on a beautiful day
With the big bell bottoms / And groovy long hair / Justa walking in style / With a portable CD player
No / would listen / To the music on / The AM radio could hear the music / The AM radio
Flashback to '72 / Another summer in the neighborhood / Hanging out with nothing to do
Sometimes / We'd go driving around / In my sister's Pinto / Cruisin' with the windows rolled down
We'd listen to the radio station / We were too damn poor / To buy the 8 track tapes
There wasn't any good time / To want to be inside / My mom would want to watch that TV all night
I'd be in bed with the radio on / I would listen to it all night long / Just to hear my favorite song
You'd have to wait / But you could hear it / On the AM radio could hear the music / On the AM radio
I can still hear mama say / "Boy...Turn that radio down!"
Things changed back in '75 / We were all growing up / On the in / And the outside
We got in trouble with the police man / We got busted / Getting high / In the back of my friend's van
I remember 1977 / I started going to concerts / And I saw the Led Zeppelin
I got a guitar / On a Christmas day / I dreamed that Jimmy Page / Would come to Santa Monica / And teach me to play
There isn't any other place that I need to go / There isn't anything that I need to know / That I did not learn from the radio
Yeah when things get stupid / And I just don't know / Where to find my happy
I listen to the music / From the AM radio
(You could hear the music / On the AM radio)
(You could hear the music / On the AM radio)
I like pop and I like soul / I like rock / But I never liked disco
(On the AM radio)
We like pop...We like soul / We like to rock / But we never liked disco
(On the AM radio)
I never liked I never liked disco

Selective Memory? (1)

KevinDumpsCore (127671) | more than 10 years ago | (#9581729)

> Glory Days? You want Glory Days?

Here's a related story [] on Kuro5hin. I think these Glory Days may just be selective memory. Nobody wants to remember the bad stuff.

I grew up in the St. Louis area and remember listening to that station, KSHE [] , in the late 80s. To me, they were Jurassic rock dinosaurs who were oblivious to the exciting new music forms of the time: hip-hop, hardcore punk, and thrash. (KSHE *did* have a metal show but you had to suffer through the Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin ad naseum.)

I heard better music coming out of college radio stations [] . I also heard KDHX [] , a great community radio station, when it first went on the air. It's still on the air too, so the glory days are still here!

I hope it sticks. (4, Insightful)

BCW2 (168187) | more than 10 years ago | (#9537003)

It seems that any industry that is allowed to "consolidate" from many to a few owners or companies has the same results: Higher Prices, Worse Service. Doesn't matter what group you are talking about the same thing happens.

Re:I hope it sticks. (2, Funny)

Caceman (682840) | more than 10 years ago | (#9537274)

Yeah...I am outraged at the way my radio bill keeps rising. If this keeps up, I'm definitely going to switch to something fixed price, like my pirated MP3 collection.

Re:I hope it sticks. (2, Insightful)

Entropius (188861) | more than 10 years ago | (#9537313)

Your radio bill *is* rising, although not directly.

They're playing more ads and worse music, thus the amount of time you have to expend and the number of inane ads you have to listen to in order to get the same entertainment value value has gone up.

It's all a matter of marginal costs. And, you're right--eventually when those costs (crappy radio) outweigh the value gained from radio, people will start listening to their own recordings in their cars. (Many already have, obviously.)

Re:I hope it sticks. (1)

connorbd (151811) | more than 10 years ago | (#9537459)

I've actually had a friend express a small amount of envy at my large library of car CD mixes. The Boston market at least has a few small-conglom (FNX, the WGBH radio stations) and indy (WXRV) stations left that provide some diversity... one of the few areas where Clear Channel owns only a small swath of the dial, but Infinity is very powerful actually.

Re:I hope it sticks. (2, Interesting)

Entropius (188861) | more than 10 years ago | (#9537965)

After my second discman in a year broke (I only have a tape deck, so I have to use external cd players with an adapter in the car), I started using my laptop as a car music player. Lots of storage, no need to burn CD's.

And, while I've got it in the car, I may as well run netstumbler...

Re:I hope it sticks. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9539133)

So you're willing to trample over someone's 1st amendment rights because you're too cheap to pay for satellite radio? nice.

Re:I hope it sticks. (1)

BCW2 (168187) | more than 10 years ago | (#9539753)

Did you read the part about "worse service"? Clear channel stations have little local news, double the ads, and the worst playlists, af any radio group or privately owned stations.

UHF! (5, Funny)

niktesla (761443) | more than 10 years ago | (#9537007)

These rules played an intricate part of the plot for UHF, in which a UHF station was being bought out by a network station who were gonna use this rule as an excuse to close the popular UHF station, where you could you see such shows as Conan The Librarian, Ghandi II, Strip Solitare, and the best of all Stanley Spadowski's Playhouse!

But seriously, these small stations have a lot of unique programming that should not be lost.

Re:UHF! (0)

solarmist (313127) | more than 10 years ago | (#9537068)

I agree that small radio stations/etc. (I'm not sure exactly what all the laws apply to) are needed and allow you to listen to things other than the current pop culture whatever that may be, or the oldies that was pop when some of us where younger. But I don't see this ruling even it is up held all the way up, to provide much protection (like posted above) from bigger dogs.

But I do feel there is some hope. Internet radio is quite a bit cheaper and allows very small business' to operate without all the regulation and I think even if we continue this trend of bigger and "better" the internet will allow us to counter this (especially when we can start getting streaming music in our cars, BTW is anyone working on this?).
Even with this you have to wonder how long the internet is going to remain unabused/censored/regulated.

(sorry, this is a little off topic)It's deffinatly a shame that all our 'unique' local stations/stores/etc. are being devoured by large business' because they can afford to buy in bulk and outright buy the buildings they use.


MooseByte (751829) | more than 10 years ago | (#9537079)

"Stanley Spadowski's Playhouse!"

I loved that movie! Even saw it in the theatre when it came out. I'm not sure if that's cool or... sad. Being a fan of Kramer before there was a Kramer. :-)

"You're a lucky, lucky boy 'cuz you know why? You get to drink from... the FIREHOSE!"

Funny though, at the time (20 years ago?) I remember thinking how radio consolidation was getting out of control. If only I knew how good we had it then.

Not a total reversal (4, Insightful)

MooseByte (751829) | more than 10 years ago | (#9537016)

While still good, it's worth noting that this is not a complete rejection of the FCC's new rulemaking. Specifically it still gives them plenty of leeway in radio consolidation and cross-ownership of radio and TV stations in the same market, provided the FCC "can provide better justification" for doing so.

But still, many a good reason to be doing the Happy Dance today! Hooray! Nice to see the courts still have some sanity in them.

Re:Not a total reversal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9539144)

/. is a funny place. A police officer is allowed to ask your name if he thinks you're doing something suspicious, and outrage ensues over 4th amendment violations. Someone tries to buy a radio station to exercise his 1st amendment rights, and everybody is glad the courts are blocking him from doing so. You don't care about anyone's rights but your own, asshole.

Media Companies Needn't Worry (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9537049)

The Supreme Court should overrule this one 5-4.

Name the Losers (3, Informative)

earthstar (748263) | more than 10 years ago | (#9537054)

The media ownership rules, adopted in a 3-2 vote along party lines in June of last year, lifted a 1975 ban on owning both a newspaper and a television or radio station in the same town. The new rules allow a company to own two TV stations in more than 90 percent of local markets and up to three stations in the biggest markets such as Los Angeles and New York.

So can u name some of the companies that will be a big loser because of this ruling?

Hum (1)

thing2b (683741) | more than 10 years ago | (#9537057)

Yay, no monolopies (bad spelling)

Roll out LPFM! (4, Interesting)

John Leeming (160817) | more than 10 years ago | (#9537097)

The one point that may be lost to the casual reader is that the conglomerates were the biggest stumbling block to the allocation of Low Power FM (LPFM) radio stations going on the air.

With marginal engineering claims that "channel adjacency" would cause "undue interference" (read: get people to listen to something else in a virtually closed market owned by Clear Channel, for example), LPFM has been sidetracked and slowed from expanding to fill local community needs.

As well, this could also assist in 'breaking the back' of Clear Channel in its efforts to become the entertainment monopoly, controlling not only who it is that plays concerts at local venues, but the 'reverse payola' of not giving airplay to artists that aren't a part of the Clear Channel "stable of stars".

Now, if only the National Lawyers Guild would finish their legal challenge to the Communications Act of 1934...

Re:Roll out LPFM! (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9537143)

You _do_ understand that the Low Power Radio Act of 2004 (which would deploy LPFM on a mass scale) is RIGHT NOW before the Senate and that a campaign is underway to rally support for this act [] .

Re:Roll out LPFM! (1)

AndroidCat (229562) | more than 10 years ago | (#9537405)

They're even moving in to Canada. Lately buying the New Yorker Theatre [] in Toronto. (Maybe they got confused by the name?) A branch of the Blue Man Group will be moving in, right across from Scientology's Martian Embassy. (Sometimes that's funny. [] )

Re:Roll out LPFM! (1)

jsebrech (525647) | more than 10 years ago | (#9538118)

They're even moving in to Canada. Lately buying the New Yorker Theatre in Toronto.

And clearchannel is buying up advertisement space (as in the actual billboards) here in Belgium. I wonder what their plan is with that.

Re:Roll out LPFM! (1)

akb (39826) | more than 10 years ago | (#9537430)

LPFM is the main issue that the lead plantiff in this case, The Prometheus Radio Project [] , works on. There's a bill in the Senate now to expand LPFM.

Re:Roll out LPFM! (2, Informative)

connorbd (151811) | more than 10 years ago | (#9537495)

FM broadcasting is more complicated than you'd think, though -- an improperly transmitted FM signal can have theoretically infinite sidebands, where an AM signal would have only two (one of which can be eliminated). It's been proven otherwise, but I think Big Media thought it had an actual point crying interference.

In any case, community radio is already here -- part 15 AM can cover a sizeable chunk of a town (at least here in the northeast) and multiple synchronized transmitters can create a large coverage area with no need for a broadcast license.

Re:Roll out LPFM! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9539106)

Of course, you failed to mention that you've trampled over people's 1st amendment rights, but since when has the constitution gotten in /.'s way.

Waivers (2, Insightful) (745257) | more than 10 years ago | (#9537144)

Aren't rules meant to be followed until new rules come, instead of one agency just waiving them?

Nothing... (1, Insightful)

ifwm (687373) | more than 10 years ago | (#9537163)

This ruling means nothing. It will of course end up in the Supreme Court, where the real decision will be made.

I must be missing something here... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9537175)

I'm confused here. Can someone please explain this...

Even without the ruling, what stops an independant broadcaster from starting a media outlet (newspaper, radio, tv), assuming the frequencies are available to do so? If someone starts said station, they aren't FORCED to sell anytime that someone like Clear Channel comes along and offers to buy, are they?

Basically, it sounds like the only thing the ruling did was limit the ability of a popular voice from being heard on more than two or three stations in large markets.

I remember once upon a time there was a thing called supply and demand. If someone didn't want to listen to a particular station, they'd change the channel. If the station was unpopular, advertisers would bail and they couldn't stay in business. It doesn't do any good to own 3 out of 4 radio stations in a market if everyone listens to that 4th station. And since the 4th station is popular, they're bringing in all the advertisers and making enough money to keep the show rolling.

I must be way off base here, can someone explain what I'm missing? I'm new to the whole media ownership debate.

Re:I must be missing something here... (3, Insightful)

Paragon of Indolence (789480) | more than 10 years ago | (#9537252)

I think that "assuming the frequencies are available" is the crux of the issue. The court must be worried that the conglamorates will buy the best frequencies immediately. Also, I think (I don't actually know) that big advertisers are liable to spend their money with known corporations; small stations would have to develop quite a niche before they're going to see any serious advertising dollars.

Re:I must be missing something here... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9537271)

Regulations don't stop everything. You didn't see Clear Channel buy out Air America, and they're having problems paying their bills. As was put above, "Supply and Demand" has more power than anything. You can't force people to listen to your station simply because it has a "different voice".

Re:I must be missing something here... (1)

Artifakt (700173) | more than 10 years ago | (#9537582)

I don't think you are way off base, in that you are starting from a free market model, and recognizing the importance of market laws. However, the real situation is already far from a theoretically frictionless free market, as I'll try to show.
First, the smaller stations CAN be forced to sell. Publicly owned ones have to accept offers if they are large enough, as their stockholders can require it, both by legal penalty and by lawsuit. Privately owned radio stations such as schools, often can't afford the fees to upgrade liscences, and the FCC has sometimes allowed a commercial owner to preferentially buy up a frequency that is already in non-commercial use, even where empty bands abound.
Supply and demand doesn't work very quickly in these cases. There are a number of markets where the demand for more of your typical clear channel type broadcasts seems understated to non-existent, but until advertisers stop believing more of that broadcasting will work for them, supply can grow to greatly exceed real demand.
This also ties into the RIAA debate. Sales may slump because people stop buying what they perceive as crap, but no record company exec ever kept his job by saying "Sales are down because I promoted nothing but garbage.". On the other hand, some of them can keep their jobs by saying "Sales are down because of Piracy.", at least for the short run. In the same way, the broadcast megacorps can make money (in the short run) by convincing advertisers the market is there, even if the market really isn't.
There's a rule in the advertising business, that says "90% of all advertising is wasted, but you never know which 10% will produce your profit." That describes a very inefficient process, and a correlary in scientific circles for that situation would be "response lags are going to be large, changes will be small and come slowly". Now try convincing the Nation's advertisers they are in a situation where any change they think is reasonable will in fact (a.) be too small, and (b.) needed three to ten years ago.
Again, that's what theoreticians call market friction. Advertisers are going to be reluctant to stop advertising to over-saturated markets, because the actual decision makers are afraid of losing their jobs by not following the conventional wisdom. It's a sort of "Nobody ever got fired for targeting their advertising budget at the 14-27 year old female demographic, like this big station says they own." rule. Yeah, this will change in the long run, but with government already involved, that long run is pretty stretched out.
You used the word 'everyone" in your post. I'd submit that's where the problem comes in. If you had said "a sizeable majority", you might have reached a different conclusion, and would definitely be phrasing things more accurately. If a sizable majority likes Brittany, and a small minority likes Cobham, Matsui, and Ella, then you would expect there would be lots of stations playing lots of Brittany, and a few playing Jazz, but it would look unnatural to see no jazz stations, or no country, or no classical, or no talk radio without Howard Stern, or whatever. 5,000 people in an overall market of 500,000 is a niche market, but somebody should be able to make some money targeting that 5,000, and if that has stopped happening in many places, there is something besides the free market causing that.

cross media ownership (0)

jonwil (467024) | more than 10 years ago | (#9537197)

Can someone explain why allowing one company to own newspaper and TV in the same area is bad?

Re:cross media ownership (1, Flamebait)

Darby (84953) | more than 10 years ago | (#9537608)

Can someone explain why allowing one company to own newspaper and TV in the same area is bad?

The problem with media consolidation is apparent by looking at the current state.
There are a only a couple of TV news networks which are nationwide. This means that if somebody, say for example, the Saudi Arabian government wants to suppress stories which make them look bad they only have to buy off a couple of people to do so.

This happened just recently. Have you noticed the barrage of commercials that have been airing recently saying basically, be nice to us we own a huge chunk of your country?

Now, given that corporate officers sole responsibility is to "enhance shareholder value", they would open themselves up to lawsuits, if they did accurate reporting on the Saudis since that would be throwing away about $100,000,000 in ad revenue.

Given that the Saudis are the primary funders, supporters, and suppliers of terrorists that is far more newsworthy than anything else they report, but you don't see it.

If they had to deal individually with a whole group of people, then it's far more likely that one or more of them would have a scrap of integrity and/or a scrap of patriotism, unlike any of our big news companies.

Fox news takes a lot of heat because they are just a mouthpiece for the administration, but the others aren't much better. It isn't economically optimal for them to report the news accurately, and investigative journalism is basically dead in America.

That, my friend, is one of the clearest signs possible that this country is degenerating into Fascism which is the merger of state and corporate power.

Re:cross media ownership (1)

Kpau (621891) | more than 10 years ago | (#9537684)

Lets say.."wallymart" owned the radio and tv stations in your area... and the newspaper. What are the odds that you'd see *any* coverage of a class action lawsuit about slave wages at wallymart's line of stores? Now real world: watch the news we have now courtesy of General Electric or Disney -- tell me if you see any investigative reporting of Disney's attempts to destroy the public domain or of General Electric's schmoozing of politicans? I watch Faux News in my hometown: does it ever cover what the city council is doing? Does it ever do any investigative reporting? No... it covers a couple of local car wrecks.. then spends the rest of its time telling me about 4 or 5 tragedies across the country (those same 4 or 5 tragedies reports used by all the Faux stations across the country cuz its very cheap and easy). The *only* radio station I listen to consistently anymore is my PBS station and recently the Air America station for *some* variety in news and viewpoints. The only tv I tend to watch is PBS for news and entertainment... and of course I have a dozen or so Internet news sources. I'll force myself to watch the corporate sludge once or twice a week just for comparison --- and I don't see how anyone can figure out what is going on with that crap or be entertained by their twaddle.

M$M$ (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9537234)

M$M$ M$M$ M$
M$ M$ M$ M$ M$M$M$
M$ M$M$ M$ M$
M$ M$ M$ M$M$M$
M$ M$ M$ M$
M$ M$ M$ M$M$M$
M$ M$ M$ M$

Read other people's messages before posting your own to avoid simply duplicating what has already been said.
Use a clear subject that describes what your message is

To Quote Eric Idle.. (1)

perraymo (555531) | more than 10 years ago | (#9537471)

who said it best with The FCC Song []

Re:To Quote Eric Idle.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9537854)

Mod up +1,000 Funny as hell!

Chairman Powell's reaction (1)

JadeNB (784349) | more than 10 years ago | (#9537681)

When Powell was pushing this agenda in the first place, the best he could come up with as justification for why it was a good thing was `As [people] watch TV in the next coming days, months, and weeks, they're not going to see something radically different than they have seen for decades.' Not a word about why it's a good thing, only about why it's not such a bad thing.

When the decision was overturned, though, the gloves came off: An NPR story yestermorn quoted him saying `This is deeply troubling', and that he feels the ruling impairs his ability to -- no, really! -- `protect the American people.'

Not that big a deal, for radio (1)

DreadfulGrape (398188) | more than 10 years ago | (#9537898)

So the 3rd Circuit bitch-slaps the FCC -- gee, wow, how cool and groovy is that. Let me know when your local rock station jettisons the ol' ZZ Top and Skynyrd tunes for, say, the Replacements and the Pixies.

Truth is that niether this court action, nor the FFC rules it blocks, will have much effect on radio (which seems to be the focus of these /. comments). Clear Channel already owns 1200 stations; the next three biggest (Cumulus, Infinity, Citadel) own about half that many, combined.

This ruling will actually hurt independent Mom-n-Pop broadcasters wishing to sell out to a bigger fish, because now all station sales pending FCC approval must be put on ice (again) until the FCC rerwites the ownership rules.

There will always be good non-commercial radio out there (in bigger towns and cities, at least), but as for commercial radio, stick a fork in it.... it's done.

Canada? (1)

Wohali (57372) | more than 10 years ago | (#9538169)

What provisions are there for low-power FM stations in Canada? I looked at the CRTC [] , but they're unlikely to tell me what the likelihood of actually obtaining a license would be.

FCC Not Serious About Anything (2, Insightful)

PingXao (153057) | more than 10 years ago | (#9538597)

If they really wanted to get serious they go as far as actually taking the airwaves away from the big corporations and giving them back to the people. We want something in return for the use of those airwaves and it ain't a one-time bargain sale.

We used to get Real News. Now we get attractive people spewing corporate and government propaganda ant us all day. Why doesn't the FCC do anything about that? (thanks to Juan Cole for some of this stuff)

Have these judges heard of the 1st amendment? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9539082)

What's happened to the US?

FP NIGGA (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9539209)

Indepent Radio Stations (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9540393)

Ah, got to love these guys. They come to Pittsburgh 1996 bought up a great station and turn it into the worst elevator music you ever hear. Not even you grandmother would listen to. They do this over and over again and then get annoyed the radio listen ship started declining even before satellite radio got a significant listener ship. Last year the PBS show NOW with Bill Moyers had on the x-own of a small radio station. The own tried to hold on to his business when all the other station were sold a few "media giants", but all the other radio stations under cut his advertising prices. Probably selling advertising at a lose for a year or so, until he went bankrupt. You can take then to court because that is price fixing/collision, and years later you win a few million but you can't operate an independent radio station any more. Should probably take the money and buy a Denies franchise or something, or analogously speaking the media giant throws a lit cigarette but in your face and says "get lost". I've read the mixed response to the decision and I don't understand why I have to keep giving the civic lesson no free process = no democracy/republic on and off line? Even with the sad state of public education these days this fact should be self evident.

Colin Powell Jr. (1, Interesting)

JerLasVegas (791093) | more than 10 years ago | (#9540658)

It's about time some judge stops this freak. The FCC doesn't even follow their own regulations consistently. Especially with the unjust fining of Howard Stern. Other people do the same things he does and don't get fined. Ever since Howard Stern has been talking about about Bush and degrading him, he has had more and more problems. And of course Michael Powell (Colin Powell Jr.) has had it out for him. And of course Clear Channel Executive Michael Long ( very good friends with G.W. Bush) pulled Howard Stern off the air less than two weeks after it began. The reason everyone gives is Janet Jackson. What makes matters worse is that our own congressmen (house of representatives) and senate approved the bill ( 99 - 1) hidden under another bill by Senator Sam Brownback from Kansas, who lives in a house funded from religious groups, that increases the fines that the FCC can give for "indecency", which is whatever the FCC determines it is. Because there are no guidelines for issuing these fines, this is a complete violation of our First Admendment.
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