Thursday, January 18, 2007

Kucinich: Congress To Take On FCC

Let's hope that this note in FMQB is the start of a trend. It is clear that without true media reform there cannot be political reform in our election process or governance.

Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) made an surprise appearance at the convention to announce that he would be heading up a new House subcommittee which will focus on issues surrounding the Federal Communications Commission.

The Presidential candidate said that the committee would be holding "hearings to push media reform right at the center of Washington.” The Domestic Policy Subcommittee of the House Government Reform Committee was to be officially announced this week in Washington, D.C., but Kucinich opted to make the news public early.

In addition to media ownership, the committee is expected to focus its attention on issues such as net neutrality and major telecommunications mergers. Also in consideration is the "Fairness Doctrine," which required broadcasters to present controversial topics in a fair and honest manner. It was enforced until it was eliminated in 1987.

That being said, I don't think that any of the patron saints of Media Ecology believed that consolidation of media ownership was the main item of concern. It is an item of concern, but not the main event. Any technology will influence a society regardless of ownership, or commercial sponsorship or quality of content. In fact, the better the content, the more people who view/listen/use the medium and the greater its influence.

FCC Commissioner Michael Copps was also on hand at the conference and took broadcasters to task for their current content, speaking of "too little news, too much baloney passed off as news.

So we can applaud the actions of Denis Kucinich in beginning a divestiture of media ownership, reestablishing equal access for others than the party in power and holding political and journalistic sources accountable for the truth in their messages. We'd all like to see this.

However, as Neil Postman pointed out, the medium of television does not lend itself to in-depth, rational political discourse. Our evolution from a literary culture (sometimes called a rational one) to a secondary orality culture is still of concern.

No comments: