Media Ownership

Government rules on media ownership are supposed to promote diversity, competition, and localism, ensuring a strong, diverse, and locally accountable media. But these rules (which were always weak) have been rolled back over the past twenty-five years, allowing a few giant companies to control much of what we watch, hear, and read about the world around us.

We believe that communication is a right. Prometheus fights for a just media system in which communities and movements control their own media, taking to the airwaves directly to participate in the decisions that affect our lives. Over the years, we have mobilized hundreds of people to participate in shaping the rules on media ownership and we have successfully sued the FCC to stop media consolidation. The fight continues! Browse our recent materials on media ownership in the sidebar.

More Background on Media Ownership

The 1996 Telecommunications Act removed most of the few protections we had against media monopolization, ending national broadcast ownership caps (Remember the sudden rise of Clear Channel?). The Telecom Act also required the FCC to reviews its media ownership rules every four years.

In 2003, then-FCC Chairman Michael Powell tried to dismantle the media ownership rules even further, with little public oversight. Thanks to pressure from the public, as well as Commissioners Copps and Adelstein, the FCC reluctantly held a series of field hearings nationwide to consider the rule changes.

In these hearings, hundreds spoke out against further consolidation of media, many of whom were mobilized by Prometheus and our allies. The invited panelists were usually commercial broadcasters who complained that the FCC’s rules (and not their own boring programming or bad business models) were draining their profits and needed to change. But these arguments were overshadowed when the overwhelming majority of those present demanded that media be held accountable to the public.

Still, the FCC ignored the millions of written comments and spoken testimonies that opposed media consolidation, and they tried to change the rules anyway. So we sued the FCC in federal court, and the 2003 rules were tossed out!

In 2007, the FCC under Chairman Kevin Martin again tried to dismantle the media ownership rules, and again, hundreds of people came out to hearings nationwide to protest. This scheme was put on hold thanks to our lawsuit, but now the courts have asked the FCC to act.

In 2010 the FCC is again reviewing its rules, now under Chairman Julius Genachowski. Prometheus continues to fight against deregulation that would push media ownership out of the reach of everyone but the largest corporations.

Background Reading