FCC Meeting on Monday April 30

As I noted previously, I have been asked to serve on a panel for the upcoming FCC public hearing in Tampa. While I am the only blogger that has been asked to serve on either panel, it’s really little more than what the general public can do.

I will be given five minutes (as opposed to two minutes for the public) to share my thoughts on the issue, as one of eleven media members. There is no “Q&A” and it’s not really a panel. We are just specially selected (“highlighted”) members of the public asked to speak on the issue.

I am serving on the 4:30pm Panel: Market Overview / Tampa, Florida Case Study. Other members of the panel include:

  • Dad Bradley, Vice President for Broadcast at Media General;
  • Bill Carey, General Manager WFTS-TV;
  • Pat Roberts, President, Florida Association of Broadcasters;
  • Art Rowbotham, President, Hall Communications;
  • Carlos Guzman, President, The Flyer Publishing Company of Florida;
  • Ronald Gordon, President & CEO, ZGS Broadcast Holdings;
  • Patrick Manteiga, Publisher, La Gaceta Newspaper;
  • Eric Klinenberg, Associate Professor, New York University; author of Fighting For Air: The Battle to Control America’s Media;

Now, I am doing some research on the issue before my presentation. I want to be informed and arrive at an educated decision. I have found a couple of websites – such as Common Cause and Stop Big Media. I am planning to attend the Free Press and Tampa Educational Cable Consortium workshop this week.

Additional information I am reading will include things like the State of the News Media report. I’ve also compiled a good list of blog posts and news articles about different aspects of news media.

While I have a bias, my mind remains open.

I’ve already given a bit of my initial bias on this issue: I believe technology is advancing and will continue to advance at such a rapid pace, large media conglomerates will have difficulty catching up. Michael Hussey at Pushing Rope disagreed, as he often does ;-):

No one reads blogs besides other bloggers. People need to get fresh sources of information. very few bloggers are actually reporters. The media is unperfect [sic], but still a vital source of information.

I will post my comments for the FCC here on Monday, shortly before I address the them. If anyone has a suggestion about where I can get more information — preferably ‘reputable,’ third-party sites – feel free to share. I’m still learning about the issue.

About Jim Johnson

Editor and publisher of The State of Sunshine.
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4 Responses to FCC Meeting on Monday April 30

  1. Peter Rad says:

    Michael Hussey at Pushing Rope has a point. For the affluent and the Gen Y crowd, almost all info comes from the web. But it comes from Big Media like USA Today, CNN, etc. Bloggers that you read generally agree with your perspective, so you are not getting enough of the other side. Plus bloggers are not edited nor accurate nor real journalists, so it’s not true news. (Generally speaking). Big media consolidation is not good for anyone especially the Baby Boomers.

  2. Jim Johnson says:

    Actually, no, it’s quite the opposite with me. I read blogs of all kinds – including many with whom I do not agree. I have more than 200 feeds in my feed reader – growing every week.

    These feeds range from friends’ diary-style blogs to feeds from mainstream media sources. All of which is “news”.

    I beg anyone anywhere to define news has having to be produced by professionally trained journalists or edited by anyone. To be sure the BEST news reports are by journalists – which is why they will always be with us.

    It’s just that a journalist will not longer be tied to a news organization. Take Dan Ruth for example. Why should they work for one media company when they could just as easily open their own “blog” and sell ads without so much overhead.

    The same is true for any reporter.

    It may not be called a “blog” or meet the Wikipedia definiton of “weblog,” but the future of media is online.

    Heck, just read this article and you will see what I mean.

  3. Gavin Baker says:

    I’m another blogger who will be at the hearing, but not on any panel 🙂 Maybe if you break a leg at the last minute or something, they can sub me in. (I hope you do not break your leg!)

    I’ve blogged about the subject some at the Florida Free Culture blog. I’m also quoted on the subject in today’s Orlando Weekly: “Why the Media Sucks”.

    Like you, I’m also a new-media guy — but what I’ve come to realize is that often (much to my dismay!), the new media really depends on old media frameworks. I mean, it’s totally possible that there would never have been such a thing as wireless Internet. For that matter, there might never have been mobile phones or Blackberrys — and the quality of service that we have now is, to a large extent, a reflection of public policies. Similarly, in the semi-new media of digital TV, the incumbents just got a total handout from the FCC. Licensees that used to have one station now have 3 or 4, and they didn’t have to pay a dime for it, or prove to anyone why they should get it. That’s a bunch of new voices that could have gone on the air — or spectrum that could have been used by new technologies, like better wireless Internet. The promise for cool new technology was pretty much wasted, except now we get to watch American Idol in high resolution.

    I certainly don’t want to tell you what to say, but you did ask for comments 🙂 So, if I were you, this is the kind of stuff I’d talk about. I know the subject of the hearing is media ownership per se, but ownership is just one aspect of the way we allocate spectrum. There’s no reason why any media should be “owned”; it could all be like wifi, with smart technologies that don’t collide with one another, thus eliminating the need for the government to assign spectrum (and hence the controversies about how to allocate it, e.g. how many outlets one person can own). It’s certainly a radical proposition to get the FCC out of assigning spectrum to radio and TV stations (though they would still regulate the technologies that used the spectrum, to ensure they don’t interfere) — but I think it’s one the FCC should consider seriously. The commission can certainly compromise and consider allocating some, but not all, of the spectrum for unlicensed use.

    The other big point I’d make is that when the FCC uses a “market” mechanism like an auction to allocate spectrum, it’s a very imperfect market and usually just ends up helping the incumbent corporations. If they really want to encourage diversity and innovation, the FCC needs to set aside more spectrum for non-commercial and community broadcasters. The airwaves belong to the people; we deserve the opportunity to actually use them to produce something, rather than just consume. (I could make some analogy to Web 2.0 here, or open source or Creative Commons, but I’ll try really hard not to. Oh, I just did? Well, gee whiz, whoops.) Community media gives people a way to really participate in creativity and communication, and creates a lot of value for communities.

    I imagine there are a dozen other subjects you might want to talk about. But as the token “new media” guy on the panel, it seems like these are the subjects you might want to touch on.

    If you need sources for any of this stuff, browse around http://www.publicknowledge.org and http://www.freepress.net. Or check out Lawrence Lessig’s The Future of Ideas.

    Hope this helps 🙂 Look forward to meeting you at the hearing!

  4. Gary Graham says:

    Hello Jim-
    I’m a filmmaker making a documentary about media ownership and also delving quite deeply into the realm of what the “”new media” has to offer, etc.

    For me the debate is more or less a look at what is happening to our news. It’s recently been reported by the Newspaper Guild that 35,000 journalism jobs were lost in the past five years. Newspapers still represent the majority of newsgathering happening in this country . For example, the New York Times contains 100,000 words as opposed to a 30 minute broadcast on a major network containing 1100 words.

    Do we have more news now with the advent of the internet? Surely we have more portals or news outlets, but who is gathering the news? How do bloggers and citizen’s journalists fit into this picture?

    I will be at the hearing and am looking to interview some of the panelists, but also keenly interested in speaking to bloggers, citizen’s journalists. Such as yourself. Please email if you’d have time or might be interested.

    Thanks and good luck!
    Gary Graham
    garygrahamis@gmail.com

    Some interesting things here:
    http://www.economist.com/printedition/displayStory.cfm?story_id=7830218&fsrc=RSS

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/newswar/preview/

    http://www.thenation.com/doc/20070129/nichols

    There are a lot of questions in need of answering. I would love to speak to you, interview you at your convenience.

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