New House Telecommunications Subcommittee Chairman Ed Markey (D-Mass.) told attendees at the National Conference on Media Reform Saturday said that Congress needed to explore ways to boost minority ownership of the media and took aim at loosened ownership rules he blamed for suppressing a diversity of views.
Citing the appropriateness of holding the conference on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend, Markey called diversity of ownership "a proxy for diversity of viewpoints and diversity of content. Simply put, therefore, elimination of ownership limits eradicates the an important tool we have to help ensure that the public has access to a wide array of viewpoints in local news and information."
He slammed the remanded media ownership changes of 2003, saying they had been "rammed through the FCC" and, save for the court, would have "eviscerated the public interest" and been a "toxin to Democracy and the death knell for community control of the media."
Markey will have some help holding broadcasters' feet to the fire.
According to a story from the nonprofit Center for Public Integrity's Drew Clark, Rep. and presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), will head a newly created subcommittee of the House Government Reform Committee that will hold media ownership hearings.
Kucinich was a surprise speaker at the conference, according to Clark, saying he was going to "push media reform right at the center of Washington."
Markey and Kucinich were just two of the many Washington Democratic policy shapers who made the trip to Memphis for the conference, many framing media consolidation as a civil rights issue and invoking the Martin Luther King holiday.
Veteran noncom journalist Bill Moyers led the group, likening "big media corporations to plantation owners and American media consumers to their slaves," according to an account of the speech by conference sponsor Free Press.
Veteran media ownership critic Jonathan Adelstein called on the assembled to repudiate any FCC attempts to roll back rules and took aim at unidentified VNRs, payola, and more.
Adelstein's speech, as well as ones by Moyers, Markey and others even got their own section on YouTube.