Monday, December 18, 2006

Anti-Corporate and Progressive Actions Media Alert: Two fights against media

The FCC is at it again, ignoring the public interest to give handouts to massive corporations. This time, Chairman Kevin Martin has thrown ethics out the window to rush through the mega-merger of AT&T and BellSouth before a new congress can provide oversight.

Martin is forcing one commissioner to overlook a conflict of interest and rubber stamp the AT&T merger without safeguards for Net Neutrality -- the longstanding principle that prevents Internet providers from discriminating between Web sites. This move could undermine basic freedoms for all Internet users. Commissioner McDowell rightly "recused" his vote on the merger because he had prior business ties affected by the deal. That left the FCC in a 2-2 tie. But rather than negotiate with commissioners in good faith, AT&T and Martin have tried to force McDowell to vote for the merger.

Members of both House and Senate have objected to McDowell's handling of the merger, but we need to make sure other members of Congress know about Martin's action and put a stop to it. Sign this letter to Congress today. Your comments will also be sent to the FCC. Go to for more information.

Common Cause adds: At the same time, the FCC has started to revise the nation's media ownership rules. Take action now to make sure ordinary citizens are allowed to have input on the new regulations. In 2003, the FCC approved sweeping new rules to permit big media to get even bigger. Despite efforts to keep the public out of the process, more than 3 million Americans voiced their concerns about media consolidation to the FCC and Congress. Elected officials of both parties objected to the rules changes, and media activists ultimately sued the FCC, winning in 2004 when a federal district court told the commission to rewrite the regulations.

This process has begun, and Kevin Martin has promised that the Commission will hold six public hearings around the country on the issue. One has been held in Los Angeles, and another is scheduled for Nashville. We need to make sure that additional hearings are scheduled, and that the process of developing new regulations is transparent and responsive to public interests and needs—not just a media-giant wish list.

Common Cause is working to send 25,000 letters to the FCC by December 21. You can send one online from their website here, where you can also find background info on the issue.

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