Thursday, October 23, 2008

Dear FCC...

The debate over media broadcast ownership is ongoing. The FCC is making efforts to localize media because the public deserves the right to diverse, competitive, representative media. Their efforts have been small, however, as citizens are still expressing their concerns. The people want to reclaim the airwaves and determine what is played and who has ownership. The FCC is still faced with some critical questions...

1) Do broadcasters use radio and television to quickly and effectively respond to the local communities needs and interests? Give examples to support your answer.
Broadcasters are on the right track to localise media, but they are still not there yet. The large majority of television stations are national stations, such as NBC, CBS, MTV, Food Network, etc. I believe there may be one or two television stations that cater to my specific region, but they are underfunded and rarely show programming that is of any use to me. Radio tends to be more localized, although all radio stations follow the same cookie cutter format. In 2003, Powell created the Localism Task Force to allow citizens to tell the members of the FCC how their broadcasters were serving localism and diversity. However, Powell made no effort to loosen the ownership rulings. The people of San Antonio were outraged because the FCC was not making decisions in their best interests. I feel that if the FCC were to come to my hometown, they would be received in a similar fashion because our media is simply not localized.

2) Are there certain kinds of local programming (Public Media Values) that should be available, but are not being provided by broadcasters? what could some examples of these be?
It is important to localize media so the entire nation is not being fed the same homogenized information. At Marist College, we have the campus news station, MCTV. This station serves as a channel for students interested in radio/tv/film to produce their work. However, during difficult times on campus, such as an emergency, MCTV has been used as a vehicle for communication. For example, three years ago when I was a freshman, a student died due to meningitis. The station served as a channel to remember the student and to warn other students how to protect themselves against such an illness. This channel is not enough, however. I live in CT and I only know of one station that occasionally shows programs catered to my neck of the woods. Similarly, when there is an emergency in my county there should be a local TV station to turn to to get the inside scoop. Informative stations desperately need to be more localized, although I don't think it's necessary to localize entertainment shows, unless they are highlighting town events.

3)What could the Federal Communication Commission do to promote localism in broadcasting? Explain three of these examples of public-service-oriented projects that are already in process across the US.

There are a number of public-service-oriented projects set in motion across the US to promote localism. One example are municipal broadband systems and community wireless networks. These systems provide inexpensive access to up to date technology parallel to public utilities. Another example are public-interest wireless broadband projects. This allows the public to access the airwaves with high-speed as opposed to sectioning it off for different users. This is a cost effective way for universal broadband access to television, voice, and the Internet. One public service project that is facing controversy are noncommercial community radio stations. Many of these have been shut down, however, out of fear by the National Association of Broadcasters that these stations will cause air wave interference and take away from their listeners.

These public-service-oriented projects are facing many obstacles. They need to get the support they need to aid in the effort to localize programming. This is a subject that has outraged the nation and it is time the FCC starts listening.

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