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FCC must promote diversity in media ownership

Wade Henderson and Michael Copps | 12/20/2012, 2:20 p.m.

Instead of promoting diversity in media ownership, the FCC is now preparing to vote for an order that would increase consolidation, allowing big media to own even more TV and radio stations and permitting TV stations and newspapers in more cities to combine under a single masthead. The very predictable result will be more shuttered newsrooms and even less diverse ownership.

This is a far cry from the original broadcaster commitment to serve the public interest in return for free use of the people’s airwaves. If the FCC decides to cave to big media consolidation again and allow fewer companies to own our public airwaves, we will all be subject to lower quality local programming, a less competitive market environment, glitzy infotainment passed off as news, public airwaves that don’t really serve the public, and ultimately, a more distorted view of our country.

The demographic shifts are real for the country; they’re real for business; they’re real for politics. It’s time for the FCC to recognize that they’re also real for the media.

Wade Henderson is the president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition of more than 200 national Civil Rights groups. Former FCC Commissioner Michael Copps leads the Media and Democracy Reform Initiative at Common Cause.