America's Most Concentrated Video Market


FCC Democrats Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein are going to Emerson College in Boston later this month for a media ownership discussion with a couple of programming vets to look at the issue from a vertical rather than a horizontal perspective.

From the Left Coast come Vin DiBona of America’s Funniest Home Videos fame and Lucy Salhany, former Fox Broadcasting chairman and Twentieth Television chairman and UPN CEO to name only the most prominent  mileposts in her most prominent career.

My guess is that the topic of conversation will get around to the financial interest and syndication rules, which used to prevent networks from owning the domestic syndication rights to shows on their air. OK, the discussion will likely start there, particularly since the event description opines that media ownership debates have focused on local news and diversity of views, and that "little attention has been given to vertical integration, or companies owning both distribution and production of programming."

Di Bona is on the advisory board of the Center For Creative Voices in Media, the Hollywood-backed group pushing for a 25% set-aside of prime time for independent producers to counter what they say has been the domination since the rules were scrapped of prime time by studio/network conglomerates, like NBC Universal and ABC/Disney and CBS/Paramount and Fox/Twentieth TV that produce air and syndicate the shows in-house. But speaking of House, that is one show that NBC Universal’s production arm probably wishes its own network had not passed on, thank you very much.

But I also hope there is some talk of the coalition’s other big issue, indecency and content regulation, whcih is also framed as a media ownership issue. Michael Copps has been a big critic of TV content, most recently violence, while Di Bona’s Funniest Home Video show was almost fined for indecency for a scene in which a pacifier got stuck in a baby’s behind. The show wasn’t fined, but met at least part of the FCC’s test for indecent programming.

According to the release announcing the discussion Oct. 23, all the FCC commissioners were invited. But apparently due to scheduling conflicts, the only ones who could make it were the two who share Di Bona’s opposition to media consolidation.