Broadcast Workers Oppose Dereg


While broadcast station owners have generally been asking the FCC to loosen their ownership rules, unions representing thousands of their employees have been asking for just the opposite.

In filings with the FCC on its media ownership review, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, for example, says that it is "unequivocally opposed" to scrapping or loosening ownership rules, saying its members on the news and programming side "have been and will continue to be hurt by further media consolidation."

It also argues that cable news channels, Web sites and digital multicast channels should not count as distinct voices for the sake of measuring viewpoint diversity if they are owned by the same company.

AFTRA argues that broadcaster's digital multicast streams will allow them to skirt current limits by using digital multicasting "to broadcast new and additional channels, even where existing ownership rules do not permit them to obtain licenses for new stations."

In its comments, the Communications Workers of America said media owners are "crying wolf" when they say they need to merge to remain afloat, pointing to the 40%-50% profit margins for local news. It argued for maintaining the newspaper-broadcast ownership rule and "strong structural limits" on TV and radio station ownership.

Meanwhile, the AFL-CIO has asked the FCC not only not to scrap or loosen its rules, but to tighten a number of them. That includes strengthening prohibitions on TV-newspaper and TV-radio crossownership and tightening TV ownership limits.

The FCC majority is looking to loosen those regs and lift the prohibition.

The unions represent more than 80,000 reporters, anchors, sportscasters, talk show hosts, producers, writers and many other workers in front of and behind the cameras.