Target: Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, Julius Genachowski
Goal: Prohibit Rupert Murdoch and other media conglomerates from destroying media diversity and American democracy.
The L.A. Times recently reported that Rupert Murdoch, owner of the media giant News Corp., has shown interest in buying The Chicago Tribune and The L.A. Times. If Murdoch were to gain ownership over these large newspapers, he would not only be strengthening his widespread grip on the American media, but he would also lessen the diversity of media ownership thereby threatening the strength of American democracy.
For the past 30 years, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has protected media diversity from these types of buyouts through their Newspaper/Broadcast Cross-Ownership rule, which prohibits a company from owning both a daily newspaper and a TV or radio station in the same city. This rule would have barred Murdoch from acquiring the two newspapers because he already owns two Fox TV stations in Los Angeles and Chicago; however, the FCC has recently loosened this restriction so that a company may own a major newspaper, two TV stations, and eight radio stations in one city.
These changes by the FCC work to destroy diversity of media ownership, which is important for a number of reasons. The media serves a key role in a democratic society; it ensures that the American public is able to make accurately informed decisions, and it also acts as a check on the power of the government through investigations and keeping citizens informed. When only a few people—like Rupert Murdoch—hold power over media outlets, these duties of the media are neglected and power is abused. Only certain stories will be reported upon, most often those that seek to serve advertisers and shareholders, instead of informing American citizens. Local news would be neglected, leaving communities without the important communication resource. Politicians would have more freedom to serve their own interests and those of their big-money donors, instead of serving the American public who should be able to count on journalists and reporters to act as their watchdog.
By signing the petition below, you are telling the FCC’s chairman, Julius Genachowski, to uphold the original Newspaper/Broadcast Cross-Ownership rule so that the media may perform its essential democratic duties.
Dear Julius Genachowski,
The FCC’s recent decision to weaken the restrictions of the Newspaper/Broadcast Cross-Ownership rule is unacceptable. It is the duty of the FCC to serve the public interest, yet it has failed to do so. Instead of protecting media diversity by upholding this rule, the Commission has only served the interests of media conglomerates such as News Corp., owned by Rupert Murdoch.
The media plays a vital role in a democratic society: accurately informing citizens so that they may make educated decisions and acting as a check on the power of politicians. The FCC was instituted so that it would protect these duties and thereby strengthen American democracy. When the power of the media lies in only a few people’s hands, media diversity is undermined and democracy is weakened.
No American voter has approved the FCC’s relaxation on these rules. You have allowed the FCC to be too heavily swayed by the very industry it is supposed to regulate. We demand that you fulfill your duty to protect citizens against the abuse of power over the media by upholding regulations like the Newspaper/Broadcast Cross-Ownership rule. The future of American democracy depends upon it.
[Your Name Here]