Dohiyi Mir
    In Which NTodd Says His Peace

Saturday, June 14, 2003
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FCC's Ruling is a Threat to Democracy

I got this response to an e-mail I sent both my US Senators:

Subject: Re: FCC's Ruling is a Threat to Democracy
Date: Wed, 11 Jun 2003 15:08:42 -0400

Dear Mr. Pritsky:

Thank you for contacting me with your concerns about media consolidation.
I appreciate hearing from you.

On May 20, I, along with Senator Jeffords, wrote to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman, Michael Powell, expressing similar concerns. We explained that although the number of different platforms for news and information is expanding, until more Americans use these resources, we must protect the diversity of viewpoints available in more traditional media. In light of this trend, the FCC should be working to diversify - not homogenize - the media. Senator Jeffords and I requested that the FCC delay the implementation of proposed changes to ownership rules until the measures could be debated fully.

Since the 1940s, Congress has recognized that diversity of viewpoints in media is essential to a strong democracy. To protect this diversity, Congress charged the FCC with ensuring that the ownership of newspapers, radio, and television is not consolidated in the hands of the powerful few. Unfortunately, on June 2, the FCC seriously weakened its broadcast ownership rules, which have long been one of the most important barriers to such consolidation. Even more troubling, the Commission amended those rules without any real opportunity for the different sides in the debate to be heard, and with little chance for the American people to decide what is best for our shared democracy.

Congress needs to closely monitor the results of the FCC's troubling new decision. I also hope that the FCC will be open to changing any aspect of the regime it has created, in the event that the results we fear actually come to pass. The FCC must work to ensure a rich diversity of viewpoints, so that all voices can have real outlets in the media and a genuine opportunity to be heard.

You can be sure that as this situation develops, I will keep your thoughts in mind. Thank you again for contacting me, and please stay in touch.

Patrick Leahy
United States Senator /

An acquaintance of mine observed:

Yes, Democrats are very good at "expressing concern" about the rampant corporatism that threatens our democracy. But when it comes to actually doing something, they're about as powerful as a blind 3-legged dog...

Indeed, they do typically lack backbone, but there might be some spine in this arena with S.1046 coming to vote in the Commerce Committee. My other Senator, Jim Jeffords, is a co-sponsor of the bill. And I will observe that my former governor, Howard Dean, is keeping a fire lit under BushCo in general, as noted by one of Atrios' guest posters. Go Howie!


PS--My original e-mail was brief and simply said I supported S. 1046. No need to rehash the arguments, IMNSHO. 

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A non-violent, counter-dominant, left-liberal, possibly charismatic, quasi anarcho-libertarian Quaker's take on politics, volleyball, and other esoterica.

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