Entertainers Give the FCC an Earful

Voicing their opinions at the first of six planned hearings about new FCC rules on media-ownership limits, a range of creative professionals from REM bassist Mike Mills to A-Team creator Stephen Cannell came down hard recently against the idea of relaxing the limits in place today. At two meetings in Los Angeles, Mills and Cannell argued that mergers and buyouts by the dozen have already created a homogenized media landscape in which independent voices have no way to reach consumers.

The rules under review concern cross-ownership of newspapers and television stations within the same local market, as well as TV and radio stations existing under the same umbrella. The entertainers and producers weren't asking for tighter controls -- they merely want to keep the ownership limits already in place.

"Media competition today is far more intense than at any time in history," said Stanford University professor Bruce Owen, a representative for CBS (NYSE: CBS  ) , News Corp.'s (NYSE: NWS  ) Fox, and General Electric's (NYSE: GE  ) NBC, as quoted in a Reuters story.

Professor Owen's three-headed mission in itself speaks volumes about the sameness of major media content, and I'm rather relieved to see Disney (NYSE: DIS  ) left off that list. The good professor does have a point all the same, with Internet and home-theater DVD entertainment taking mindshare from traditional media more and more every day, and with digital video recorders like TiVo's (Nasdaq: TIVO  ) eponymous product changing the way we think about TV programming.

Earlier comments suggest that FCC chairman Kevin Martin would like to remove ownership limits altogether, creating a buyout free-for-all that could lead to maybe one or two companies owning every news and entertainment outlet in Dallas, or Tampa, or Los Angeles. That would simplify life for the networks, which would be able to carve up the country into exclusive territories the same way cable and local telephone carriers have already done.

How many of us have a choice between Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA  ) and Time Warner (NYSE: TWX  ) cable, for example? And could you imagine one network owning every TV and radio station in town, as well as the largest local newspaper? You think the playlists and news-coverage efforts look bland now -- wait until you see that scenario playing out.

As an investor, I want to see healthy competition driving America's companies to greater efforts and greater results. Marking your territory and settling for a secure status quo has never inspired greatness, and it won't start doing so any time soon. Don't go back to rockville anytime soon, Mr. Mills -- we need you in L.A.

Further Foolishness:

Time Warner and Disney areMotley Fool Stock Advisorpicks. Start up a 30-day free trial to see why the Mouse looks good in a jingly jester cap.

Fool contributorAnders Bylundis a Disney shareholder, but holds no other position in any of the companies discussed here. He believes in coyotes and time as an abstract. You can check outAnders' holdings if you like. Foolishdisclosureis good for what ails you.


Read/Post Comments (0) | Recommend This Article (1)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

Be the first one to comment on this article.

DocumentId: 509282, ~/Articles/ArticleHandler.aspx, 4/19/2014 11:02:42 AM

Report This Comment

Use this area to report a comment that you believe is in violation of the community guidelines. Our team will review the entry and take any appropriate action.

Sending report...


Advertisement