Adelstein: Dereg turns b'cast into `fast food'

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Federal Communications Commission member Jonathan Adelstein Tuesday
complained that the agency is treating the media industry as if it were no
different tham fast food.

"I'm afraid that the FCC isn't only about to further McDonaldize the media --
it's about to supersize it," he told the Media Institute.

Adelstein -- one of two Democratic commissioners opposing media deregulation --
said there is very little he supports in an FCC plan for loosening
broadcast-ownership limits that is scheduled for a June 2 vote.

Under reasoning of the FCC's three-Republican majority, he said, broadcasters
would be counted as "just another voice" in the media landscape, and the
commission appears to be backing away from its mandate to ensure that
broadcasters act in the public interest.

Staffers for FCC chairman Michael Powell countered that the plan is modest and
broadcasters won't be absolved of public-interest obligations.

To permit deregulation, Adelstein continued, broadcasters must be held
accountable for the promised benefits of greater consolidation.

The Media Institute is a think tank funded by the big media companies that
stand to benefit from deregulation.

As a price for deregulation, Adelstein said, broadcast owners should at least
be forced to file annual reports tallying the quantity of new locally originated
and oriented programming they produce, the number of news reporters added,
increases in editorial budgets, technology investments and emergency-alert
improvements.

"Given all of the benefits claimed in this proceeding, this should be an easy
showing for merging parties," he said. Without holding corporations to their
promises, "the public has zero interest in seeing media conglomerates growing
bigger."

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