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<nettime> An Open Letter to Michael Powell: The Future of Music Coalitio
Paul D. Miller on Tue, 3 Jun 2003 18:17:35 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> An Open Letter to Michael Powell: The Future of Music Coalition

this is a letter me, Saul Williams, Thurston Moore, Patti Smit, Pearl 
Jam, and many others signed against the deregulation that the FCC is 
in all probability going to pass. It is legislation that is deeply 
flawed, and allows an immense consolidation of media control, in an 
unprecedented, and completely without regard to the greater public. 
It's some twisted sh*t....


The Honorable Michael Powell
Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street SW
Washington, DC 20554

Re: Media Ownership Proceeding 02-277

April 30, 2003

Dear Chairman Powell:

We are writing to insist that Congress and the public have a full 
opportunity to review and comment on any specific changes that the 
Commission intends to make in the biennial review of media ownership 
rules before such rules are issued in final form.

As musicians, recording artists, citizens and small business owners 
we are uniquely qualified to comment on the increased consolidation 
of the radio dial since the passage of the 1996 Telecommunications 
Act. We write to you today to emphasize that this period of 
consolidation has had far-reaching negative repercussions on our 
ability to gain access to the public airwaves and to make a living.

We are therefore rightfully cautious and extremely concerned as 
American citizens that increased concentration of media ownership 
will have a negative impact on access to diverse viewpoints and will 
impede the functioning of our democracy.

We understand that a ruling by the US Court of Appeals for the DC 
Circuit has required the FCC to show "empirical evidence" that the 
rules are necessary, or they must be revoked.

We believe there is ample empirical evidence that these rules are 
necessary and, more importantly, overwhelming proof that the public 
would like the limits to be held in place.

Empirical Evidence

1. "Radio Deregulation: Has It Served Citizens and Musicians?"

In November 2002, the Future of Music Coalition released a 
well-researched and data-driven study of the effects of radio 
consolidation on citizens and musicians. This 150-page document 
presents compelling evidence that radio consolidation has resulted in:

1.	Reduced marketplace competition
2.	Reduced programming diversity and the homogenization of playlists
3.	Reduced public access to the airwaves for local programming
4.	Reduced public satisfaction with listening options

2. "Democracy Unhinged: More Media Concentration Means Less Public Discourse"

In December 2002, the Center for Economic and Policy Research and the 
Department for Professional Employees/AFL-CIO released a critique of 
the twelve FCC studies which, according to an FCC press release, 
purported to have "examined the current state of the media market 
place." The Center for Economic and Policy Research used the same 
data sets to raise serious questions about the impact of 
concentration to date on diversity of news and entertainment. The 
report in dicates that there is little basis for believing that 
substitution between types of media will offset any negative effects 
from concentration in a specific medium. The FCC studies also 
neglected to consider the extent to which ownership concentration may 
affect the ability of various interest or political groups to reach a 
wider public with their views. This is an extremely important issue 
in a democracy.

3. Project for Excellence in Journalism News Ownership Study

In February 2002, the Project for Excellence in Journalism released 
the results of the largest examination ever undertaken of local 
television news in the United States to deconstruct what local TV 
news offers citizens and to examine what kind of content viewers 
preferred. The analysis was an examination of the tendencies of 
ownership structures. The findings - an analysis of 172 newscasts, 
some 23,000 stories, over five years - suggest that ownership type 
does make a difference. Among the findings:

1.	Smaller station groups overall tended to produce higher 
quality local newscasts than stations owned by larger companies-by a 
significant margin.
2.	Network affiliated stations tended to produce higher quality 
newscasts than network owned and operated stations-also by a large 
3.	Local ownership offered some protection against newscasts 
being very poor, but did not encourage superior quality.

4. Project for Excellence in Journalism/Pew Survey

In February 2003, the Project For Excellence in Journalism, in 
collaboration with the Pew Research Center for the People & the 
Press, released the results of a poll documenting the frightening 
fact that the great majority of Americans, 72 percent, have heard 
"nothing at all" about the current FCC media cross-ownership debate 
and that only 4 percent of Americans had heard "a lot about the 

In a recent speech you referred to your critics as "noisemakers" 
using the "usual alarmist political attacks designed just to prevent 
change." With all due respect, we may be sounding an alarm but we are 
not alarmist noisemakers. We are the concerned citizens and small 
business owners whose welfare you are charged to protect. We ask for 
your respect and protection.

We believe the record demonstrates both the value of existing media 
ownership rules and the dangers in permitting widespread 
consolidation of ownership. We also believe the FCC has been 
negligent in listening to important stakeholder groups, like 
musicians, recording artists and radio professionals, to ensure their 
testimony is on the record. The de facto boycott of field hearings by 
you and Commissioners Abernathy and Martin makes us question how 
interested some commissioners are in understanding the public's 
interest in these matters. Finally, a refusal to allow Congress and 
the public to view and debate your specific proposal would be a 
tremendous disservice to the American public and the citizens who 
depend on these media structures for their livelihoods.

We strongly urge you to give the public a true voice in these 
policies, which will forever alter the way citizens receive their 
news, information and entertainment.


Carmine Appice
Jackson Browne
Jimmy Buffett
David Crosby
Neil Diamond
John Doe
Don Henley
Indigo Girls (Amy Ray & Emily Saliers)
Billy Joel
Lenny Kaye
Toby Keith
Ian MacKaye
Ray Manzarek
Ellis L. Marsalis, Jr.
Tim McGraw
Paul D. Miller a.k.a. DJ Spooky

Sam Moore
Thurston Moore
Stevie Nicks
Joan Osborne
Van Dyke Parks
Pearl Jam
Sandy Pearlman
Tom Petty
Bonnie Raitt
Kevin Richardson
Patti Smith
Stephan Smith
Michael Stipe
Tom Waits
Jennifer Warnes
Saul Williams
Nancy Wilson

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