Last week the FCC voted to create a new Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau. It sounds like organizational bloat related to the “war on terror,” but there are a couple of notable responsibilities the new bureau will assume.
Pirate radio embraces the guerrilla motif: attack, disappear, reform, repeat. Several years ago it flared, made headlines, and a bit of history, but then subsided. Now things are at a healthy simmer again, and this time on more than one dial.
On the enforcement front, although the FCC still cares about pirates, activity on all three major bands (AM, FM, and shortwave) is evident. A recent story in the Boston Globe profiled several AM pirates operating there. The FCC took up the issue of LPFM in part because of pressure from committed microbroadcasters; could there be similar motivations at play in its new LPAM rulemaking? Shortwave pirates, who haven’t seen enforcement action in six years, are downright cocky.
It took only 90 minutes for the debate; calling the question took less than 15 seconds. And, as expected, the FCC voted along party lines (3-2) to significantly relax the rules restricting media ownership and consolidation, eliminating several of them completely. The agency’s news releases are full of sickening spin, but it does provide a decent overview of the new rules.
The biggest bonanzas appear to affect television ownership, where caps have been greatly relaxed, and cross-ownership of media outlets in all but a few large markets is now permitted. Mediageek’s Paul Riismandel has posted a more specific analysis of the changes to radio ownership rules.
Clear Channel might be stung by these changes but its freshly-endowed freedom to gobble up television stations and newspapers should more than compensate. The Big Ten must be having a collective orgasm over how much their empires will grow as a result of what happened today. Time to begin paying close attention to business news.
Note: All audio is in 48kbps/44KHz mono MP3 format.
Speakers are listed in the order they appeared.
W. Kenneth Ferree – Chief, FCC Media Bureau (1:54, 673K)
Short and to the point, Ferree set up the charade by brandishing a logbook of some of the first radio licenses the FCC ever issued.
There are some big changes on the horizon for the Federal Communications Commission. The changes look ominously negative, but the agency’s general inattentiveness to the renewed insurgence of unlicensed broadcasting can only help the free radio movement as a whole.
The first big change is a personnel shift occurring at the very top of the FCC: three of the five Commissioners have either resigned or are on their way out and president Bush II has formally announced his picks to fill the slots.
The appointments will give Republicans a working 3-2 majority on the Commission. Pending confirmation by the U.S. Senate, a Bush-league FCC is expected to continue the wholesale cell of the public airwaves to the highest bidder; Chairman Michael Powell has already all but declared regulation a dirty word, preferring to let “market forces” (read: corporate interests) rule the roost and direct the construction of tomorrow’s media environment.