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Aaron writes: "What if I told you the Obama administration's first major post-election policy move was a big, fat gift for Rupert Murdoch?"

Is Obama's FCC clearing the way for Rupert Murdoch to by up more of the American Media? (photo: Fox News)
Is Obama's FCC clearing the way for Rupert Murdoch to by up more of the American Media? (photo: Fox News)

Is the FCC Plotting a Giveaway to Rupert Murdoch?

By Craig Aaron, FreePress

27 November 12


Why Is the Obama FCC Plotting a Massive Giveaway to Rupert Murdoch?

hat if I told you the Obama administration's first major post-election policy move was a big, fat gift for Rupert Murdoch?

You might ask: The same Rupert Murdoch who owns Fox News?

The same Rupert Murdoch who scandalized England with phone-hacking, influence peddling and bribery?

The same Rupert Murdoch who stays up late Saturday nights pondering things on Twitter like what to do about "the Jewish-owned press"?


Murdoch already owns the Wall Street Journal, the New York Post, Fox News Channel, Fox movie studios, 27 local TV stations and much, much more.

Word is that Murdoch now covets the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune - the bankrupt-but-still-dominant newspapers (and websites) in the second- and third-largest media markets, where Murdoch already owns TV stations.

Under current media ownership limits, he can't buy them. It's illegal ... unless the Federal Communications Commission changes the rules.

But according to numerous reports, that's exactly what FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski plans to do. He's circulating an order at the FCC to lift the longstanding ban on one company owning both daily newspapers and TV stations in any of the 20 largest media markets.

And he wants to wrap up this massive giveaway just in time for the holidays.

Democracy Diversity Disaster

If these changes go through, Murdoch could own the Los Angeles Times, two TV stations and up to eight radio stations in L.A. alone. And he's not the only potential beneficiary: These changes could mean more channels for Comcast-NBC, more deals for Disney and more stations for Sinclair.

For anyone who actually cares about media diversity and democracy, the gutting of media ownership limits will be a complete disaster.

These rules are one of the last barriers to local media monopolies. Without them, we will lose competing voices for local news. We will see the mainstream media get even more monotone, monochrome and monotonous.

The FCC's own data show ownership of broadcast radio and television stations by women and minorities remains at abysmally low levels. Women own less than 7 percent of radio and TV stations; people of color control only 3.6 percent of TV stations and 8 percent of radio stations.

More media consolidation will push out smaller owners - who are disproportionately women and people of color. The more concentrated local media get, the harder it will be for underrepresented groups to compete.

That's why groups like the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the Center for Media Justice and the National Hispanic Media Coalition have spoken out against any further relaxation of ownership limits.

Déjà Vu All Over Again

Genachowski's proposal is essentially indistinguishable from the failed Bush administration policies that millions rallied against in 2003 and 2007. Ninety-nine percent of the public comments received by the FCC opposed lifting these rules when the Republicans tried to do it.

Genachowski's proposal is nearly identical to the one the Senate voted to overturn with a bipartisan "resolution of disapproval" back in 2008. Among the senators who co-sponsored that rebuke to runaway media concentration were Joe Biden and Barack Obama.

At the time, Obama blasted the FCC for having "failed to further the goals of diversity in the media and promote localism," saying the agency was in "no position to justify allowing for increased consolidation." Nothing has changed - except which party controls the White House.

The federal courts have repeatedly - and as recently as 2011 - struck down these same rules, noting the FCC's failure to "consider the effect of its rules on minority and female ownership." The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the FCC to study the impact of any rule changes before changing the rules. The FCC has done nothing of the kind.

When the Republicans were in power, they held at least seven public hearings on ownership rules in front of the full commission, where near-universal public opposition to these changes was evident.

Yet Genachowski himself has participated in zero public hearings on media ownership. Same goes for the two newest commissioners, Democrat Jessica Rosenworcel and Republican Ajit Pai. The senior Republican, Robert McDowell, did attend hearings ... five years ago. Only Democrat Mignon Clyburn has attended a public hearing on media ownership during the Obama administration.

Yet if Genachowski gets his way, according to reports, the FCC will vote on this major overhaul "on circulation" - that is, in secret and behind closed doors - with no public participation or accountability. It's shameful.

Now You Do Something?

Genachowski's behavior is inexplicable because the clearest and easiest path on media ownership was to do nothing. After losing in court, he could have punted the issue and waited for the next review in 2014, when the diversity research could have been finished and the industry trends might have been clearer.

"Do nothing" is so ingrained at the FCC it could be the agency's motto. And yet the one time inaction is called for, Genachowski is making every effort to side with Murdoch against the masses.

We can still stop this terrible plan from moving forward. The other members of the FCC can dissent and send this thing back to the drawing board. The dozens of senators who voted against this very policy less than five years ago can speak up again. The Obama administration can think about cross-examining Rupert Murdoch instead of appeasing him.

None of that will happen unless millions of people make some noise.

We should be breaking up these giant media conglomerates, not bolstering them. But right now we need to kill this policy for good - and remind the FCC that 99 percent of the public opposes media consolidation, no matter who's in the White House or the FCC chairman's seat. your social media marketing partner


A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

+58 # DPM 2012-11-27 14:10
Notice a trend, here? It is an unprecedented grab for public money, information and the diminishing of individual liberties by the wealthy, big business and their associated political "friends". Why? Perhaps because the public has been "sleeping at the switch" for so long, or their apathy is so great that this one last push to corporate totalitarianism seems possible.
+3 # joedeane 2012-11-28 14:01
The reason Obamabots will do this is that they are right wing asses just like Murdoch, so why not?
+81 # SundownLF 2012-11-27 14:13
Nooooo-o-o! This man and his 'empire' should be under criminal indictment! Do NOT give 'our' airwaves to this lunatic fringe 'media man'!
+45 # dyannne 2012-11-27 14:17
Please write to the FCC and let them know why you don't want this crook to own more power in America. We must have our voices heard. I am still mourning what's happened here in the Bay Area to my beloved radio station, KGO- 810 AM. A year ago a conglomerate bought it and fired almost all of the talk show hosts - fabulous people and a range of conservative to liberal voices. They have watered down the talk until it's only week day mornings and weekends, much of it PAP, some of it canned crap. Where once we had local talent, smart, educated, diverse conversation, we now get a tiny sliver of that and a whole lot of crap. We must stop this takeover in its tracks before we end up with nothing but sports and right wing blabber.
+18 # Inspired Citizen 2012-11-27 14:21
"Why Is the Obama FCC Plotting a Massive Giveaway to Rupert Murdoch?"

It's called pay to play. Who was, by far, the #1 recipient of campaign cash during the election from Murdoch's News Corp?

Romney? Nope?

Obama received over $130,000 from News Corp. I made no sense to me until I read this story, first published by Free Press. Don't believe me? See for yourself.
0 # Trueblue Democrat 2012-11-27 15:50
Isn't it amazing how many Obamacrats refuse to face the central message of our time -- Obama is not a Democrat. He is a wolf-in-sheep's -clothing Guinness-book phoney who is doing more than even George W Bush did to bring on the democracy-destr oying kleptocracy that is upon us.
+10 # Inspired Citizen 2012-11-27 18:57
I know this. The publisher of The American Conservative, Wick Allison, believes Obama is more conservative than Nixon was, and he voted for Obama.
+7 # Hey There 2012-11-28 15:08
I agree. When you look at Obama's actions such as Bailouts for the banks and wall street it is apparent that while his speeches hint at promises for the 99% what he is actually doing, though not in a blatant manner such as Romney favoring the rich.
+4 # KittatinyHawk 2012-11-27 18:15
130,000 is nothing
+12 # Inspired Citizen 2012-11-27 18:55
It is far more, by a factor of five, than News Corp gave to Romney's campaign. It is three times as much as they gave to the next candidate down.

It apparently was enough to buy the FCC.
+6 # 666 2012-11-27 19:06
one could also just say he's a "cheap date"
+6 # MidwestTom 2012-11-27 14:39
Isn't it amazing what money can do?
+2 # Doubter 2012-11-27 21:43
It is hard to believe so little can go such a long way. (maybe a lot more changed hands under the table)
+40 # AMLLLLL 2012-11-27 14:40
One of the most egregious trends in the last 30 years has been the poisoning of the well of the 4th Estate. An institution mentioned no less than twice in our Constitution, it has devolved to a swill of tabloid quality distribution of 'information'. Journalists are maligned and dumped if they come up with anything worthwhile; corporate tax-dodging behemoths filter what we as citizens have a right to know.

Thank God for RSN!!
+26 # readerz 2012-11-27 14:52
Time for a petition. A huge petition.
+18 # Sophie 2012-11-27 15:40
There is a petition:
Click on the "make some noise" link in the article.
And then share it.
"(None of that will happen unless millions of people) make some noise."
+18 # Onterryo 2012-11-27 14:58 understanding is that the money from News Corp came mainly from employees of News Corp. A corporation is not allowed to directly contribute to a least a federal candidate. It would be interesting to see how mnay of those employees still have jobs in a year!
+1 # Jonathan Levy 2012-11-27 15:17
You clearly have the law wrong, Barry got that money essentially from Murdoch who owns News Corp. Barry is predictably returning the favor because he is not your friend but friend of his puppet masters and always has been.
-3 # MidwestTom 2012-11-27 22:54
The Saudi's may be his most powerful puppet masters. He is doing everything he can to keep the price of oil as high as possible, despite a world wide glut. He is selling this as an effort to clean the environment. Note that in all of the so called Arab Spring uprisings the "more Fundamental Muslims have been taking over, and the Sunni's in Saudi Arabia are the most fundamental of the lot; and they are supported by us.
+23 # 2012-11-27 15:03
We simply cannot afford to let this happen. Obama should have a private talk with Genachowski. I cannot believe that Obama is in favor of this. Murdoch should be in jail and not allowed to purchase, control and be part of brainwashing the public. Not long ago we had 300 some newspapers in NYC. Democracy was in better shape than as it is today. What will we have 50 years from now? Just one or two news sources. Outrages.
+10 # Fairbs 2012-11-27 15:11
Is the ownership rule set by court precedent? And if not, is there any legal recourse to stop this from happening?

On another note, isn't murdoch British or Australian? Why does he need to try to influence our country. The guy tees me off.
+4 # Jonathan Levy 2012-11-27 15:14
When are RSN leaders going to learn that no petition will do anything when there is only theater of democracy and that Obama is not their friend any more than that douchebag Romney? He is bought and directed by the same people and Obama and the FCC will ignore your petition because he knows you sheep will vote for him as the only alternative to a Romney. Time to vote third party like I've been saying forever to little avail on RSN, who shamelessly campaigned like cowards for Obama who has always been a multi national corporatist through and through.
0 # KittatinyHawk 2012-11-27 18:18
bit late?
+1 # Lescy 2012-11-27 23:45
If Romney got in as a result of votes for a third candidates, things would be much worse, except maybe the donation from Murdoch would've gone to Obama because he was expected to win and Murdoch expected a payback after the election.

Petitions are just a start and much more needs to follow. But what else can we do??? Reoccupy?
+13 # hobbesian 2012-11-27 15:20
Terrifyingly awful - rise up and rebel! Why is this continuing to happen??? Save yourselves, Americans, please! Regulation desperately needed, overseeing (aka oversight, a wrong word if I ever heard one).
+12 # maddave 2012-11-27 15:21
In the process of executing a hostile take-over of any country the first objectives targeted are the broadcast and news media. The army - the party - that seizes control of the news & information also seizes control over citizens' minds and their actions. This is the key for gaining their support and crushing opposition. Both are reasons for propagandizing the target population. An extreme example: Rwanda could never have happened without media-purveyed propaganda.

And, Yes!, Murdoch is a master of propaganda and his various "news" media are unabashed, purveyors of biased opinions and subjectivity.

As but one vocal member of the We The People chorus, I'd prefer that before allowing these outlets to fall prey to the Svengali, Murdich, that the weak stations and newspapers be shut down and liquidated - a la Lehman Bros. Their continuing on a different format - with the divisive fear and hate that's been typical of FOX forever serves nobody! . Today, at least, we can flip channels, but with diversity deliberately destroyed, We The People will be abandoned to the tender mercies and vicissitudes of the rarely empathetic affluent, oligarchs and plutocrats.
+12 # rsnJoe 2012-11-27 15:25
This should be a slam-dunk! You can't be for the middle class and feed Monster Murdoch. You cannot be for a level playing field and permit more media monopoly. Oust Ganechowski now!
This is a bad idea even without Murdoch. The news media was mum on so many items during this campaign season; they left no doubt that they were under direction as to what to write.
0 # Rascalndear 2012-11-27 16:06
Alas, even if Romney would have been a disaster, Obama is clearly not the president most Americans who voted for him wanted, either. Nothing he's done since the election has been in line with what voters want... the failure of democracy as a system?
+13 # Wailuku1 2012-11-27 16:23
The Telecommunicati ons Act of 1996 opened the door to extensive deregulation of broadcasting. Relaxation of ownership limits allowed companies such as Clear Channel Communications to buy up radio stations throughout America, winding up with almost 10% of the commercial stations. Before deregulation, no one was allowed to have more than two radio stations in a market; suddenly mega-groups controlled as many as eight local stations. Now they want the local TV stations and newspapers as well.

Further relaxation of the ownership rules will finally kill off broadcasting as we know it. I have seen deregulation take its toll on jobs, technical facilities, programming variety, and news/public affairs. I fear the days of live, local programming on a locally-owned radio station have come to an end.

Washington seems to have forgotten that broadcast licenses are owned by the people. Frequencies are auctioned to the highest bidder and courts are allowed to infer property rights on licenses. However, licenses are to be held in public trust by licensees who pledge to operate in the public interest. Do they? The future of free broadcasting is at stake. Tell Congress and the President that we need to roll back deregulation and reduce the ownership limits rather than increase them.

A final note: No foreign citizen or corporation may own more than 20% of the stock of a broadcast licensee ... a rule that Rupert Murdoch got around in 1985 when he became a naturalized U.S. citizen.
+9 # grouchy 2012-11-27 16:42
This is totally disgusting--as is Murdoch himself--as is anyone trying to get this scum any more media power in this country! Anyone connected with our government who gets involved in such actions should be fired or un-elected at first opportunity!
+2 # cordleycoit 2012-11-27 18:21
Here we go again with the DNC rallying the gulls in the scorpion warfare of the Bush days.Everything on the line to sneak though the real controls on our lives. Murdoch needs more money to pay for the capture of his phony reporters by the Brits. Now he must expand in North America, and the basically conservative government of Obama is glad to take his money. So they start running confusion one the opposition on the Left. Keep throwing tricks like this to lose focus on the role of government in our lives. This way the Administration can kill, loot and pillage while stealing what is left of the commons.
+5 # KittatinyHawk 2012-11-27 18:23
I wonder when he dies if they will stuff him with paper mache?

Petitions do count, got to have the numbers. I would just boycott buying anything he owns but right here are ones who haven't listened, we warned of so many things We were brushed off,,getting what you paid for
+7 # suzykoch 2012-11-27 18:38
Is it too much friends? Yes, and there will be more give aways. I think that they know they need to grab as much as they can, before we can get too organized to respond in massive numbers. Where is Occupy when you need them? Oh wait, I think I hear some strong rumblings in the background - yes here they come, ready to wake us up and shake things up, I hope.
+8 # Regina 2012-11-27 18:52
I'm not the only long-time LATimes subscriber who will drop the paper if Murdoch grabs it. I'm sure there will also be a big drop of the Chi Trib.
-1 # 4yourinformation 2012-11-27 19:57
Noooo. Not Saint Obama! He wouldn't let this happen...would he?

Obama's a "good guy," right? C'mon Great us you are a good Democrat.

Seriously....this is why I voted proudly for Jill Stein. I notice that all the Obama Lovers are absent from ALL of the post-election betrayal revelations. Where's "BarbaraK and crew????

Obama will show us just how much like RobMe is. This is such a travesty.
+4 # Doubter 2012-11-27 21:51
A politician is a politician is a politician.
+6 # tm7devils 2012-11-27 21:58
A president appointed the FCC chairman...and a president can fire him. If Obama allows the present chairman to change the rules in favor of Murdock we will know which side Obama is on for the next four years...and won't be the 99%!
+7 # DRPJJ 2012-11-27 22:17
Having Citizens United cause billions to be spend on propaganda and slander, now our airwaves will again be hostage to the 1%.
Obama was given a "mandate" but not to sell us out!!
+4 # Buddha 2012-11-28 13:32
To me this goes far beyond Nerdoch, I would oppose relaxation of these rules even if it was George Soros himself trying it. Concentration of too much media into too few hands threatens diversity and competing narratives, and thus is a risk to our very democracy itself.

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