Analysis: FCC Decisions Please Few, Alarm Many
December 20, 2007 at 6:43 AM (PT)
By now, the din of outrage over the FCC's DEC. 18th meeting has dimmed to a just a loud roar, nevertheless a growing number of media observers are coming to the conclusion that Chairman KEVIN MARTIN tried to please everyone, ruling towards anti-consolidation interests (cable TV caps) on one hand and pro-consolidation on the other (radio cross-ownership) in a way that ultimately pleased no one.
Best summarizing the entire affair was the pro-business WALL STREET JOURNAL, which asked why, after MARTIN "braved left-wing outrage yesterday by lifting the three-decade-old cap on media cross-ownership ... did [he] turn around and vote with the Democratic commissioners to impose caps on the size of cable companies?"
So who could blame Kevin Martin for thinking of the old saw, 'No good deed goes unpunished?'
The article contrasted MARTIN saying, "We cannot ignore the fact that the media marketplace is considerably different than it was" when it comes to radio cross-ownership, but "when it comes to the market share of cable companies, MARTIN seems to feel that he both can and must ignore the changes in the market -- as well as a 2001 appeals court ruling that struck down a cap very much like the one Mr. MARTIN voted to reimpose yesterday."
Is Anybody Happy?
Few would be surprised if MARTIN is asking himself that question right about now -- and for good reason. On the one hand, you have Sen. BYRON DORGAN (D-ND), chomping at the bit to introduce a "resolution of disapproval" that ostensibly would nullify the FCC's rule change after it officially takes effect. In a blistering, albeit politically motivated speech (then againm consider the source) , not only did he blame the decision on Republicans, but he took a nice potshot at the evils of voicetracking.
Granted, DORGAN represents the state that's home of the infamous "train wreck and nobody's home at the local radio station" incident, but even a casual observer would think bringing it up yet again is tantamount to unearthing a buried dead horse just to beat it one more time.
Meanwhile, newspaper groups aren't all that happy with the FCC vote, either, saying the approved revisions are not nearly enough to prevent imminent media doom. "Today's vote is only a baby step in the actions needed to maintain the vitality of local news, in print and over the air, in all communities across the nation," NEWSPAPER ASSOCIATION AMERICA Pres./CEO JOHN STURM told FORBES. Predictably, he believes the cross-media ownership ban should be dropped altogether.
So who could blame MARTIN for thinking of the old saw, "No good deed goes unpunished?"
Thing is, it's hard to find anyone who thinks the decision was that much of a "good deed" in the first place.