Ted Turner rails against FCC and big media

John here, pretending he’s Harold, with a link to a story about the FCC and big media. It’s by Ted Turner of CNN fame, & published in

The Washington Monthly.

His line of reasoning will be familar to loyal readers of Harold’s Tales of the Sausage Factory but it is refreshing to see it coming from the pen of a wildly successful media mogul.

Some tidbits:

Unless we have a climate that will allow more independent media companies to survive, a dangerously high percentage of what we see–and what we don’t see–will be shaped by the profit motives and political interests of large, publicly traded conglomerates. The economy will suffer, and so will the quality of our public life.

Big media today wants to own the faucet, pipeline, water, and the reservoir. The rain clouds come next.

I’ve included one more teaser in the extended section, but you’ll have more fun if you skip that and just follow the link to the article. It’s well written with Turner’s trademark directness, and it’s scary stuff from somebody who knows what he’s talking about.

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Tales of the Sausage Factory: Good FCC Order on Unlicensed Released

The FCC has now released the Order it published last week on allowing higher power outputs for “smart antennas.” A copy of the Order in word is available here, and pdf here. My extremely limited analysis below. Headline version: the FCC sidestepped some bad ideas and the order will generally improve the ability of equipment manufacturers and network providers to use unlicensed spectrum more efficiently and at slightly higher powers in existing bands. So call it a good day at the FCC.

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Tales of the Sausage Factory: When Good FCC Proceedings Go Bad

I’m getting rather worried as I gear up for two major FCC proceedings that are supposed to be good proceedings for unlicensed spectrum access. Et Docket No. 04-151 proposes opening the 3650–3700 MHz band to unlicensed spectrum (proposed rules in pdf here). The other, ET Docket No. 04-186 proposes opening the broadcast bands to unlicensed spectrum access (proposed rules in pdf here). What could be wrong? See below. I sure hope someone other than me shows up to comment . . .

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Tales of the Sausage Factory: Victory is SWEET!

I will have a lot more to say on this later, but the Third Circuit Court of Appeals has issued its decision on the FCC’s media ownership deregulation that took place last summer.

The result is a near total victory for MAP and the other public interest clients and the American people. The FCC’s June 2, 2003, deregulatory Order is reversed as not supported by logical reasoning based on the record. The court reverses and remands to the FCC, keeping the old rules in effect until the FCC resolves this mess. The court rejects the FCC’s position that the provision of the 1996 Act that requires the FCC to conduct a review of its ownership rules is “deregulatory” or that it prohibits the FCC from making ownership regulations more stringent. Instead, the FCC is supposed to review its ownership rules and decide whether the public interest requires the FCC to keep the rule, relax the rule, eliminate the rule, or make the rule even more stringent.

More information at our website.

YEEEEEEHAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!

Tales of the Sausage Factory: Clear Channel Settlement Signals Indecency Running Out Of Steam

The FCC and Clear Channel reached a settlement on all pending indecency proceedings involving Clear Channel. You can read a copy of the Consent Decree and the statements of the various Commissioners here. As usual, I’m more interested in what it means. To me, this says “the Bush Administration wants indecency to go away as an issue.” Surprised?

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Tales of the Sausage Factory: Goodies for the Broadcasters, Zip for the Public

Only in Washington would the Clear Channels of the world, those great champions of efficiencies and deregulation, declare that their monopoly on local content must be protected with regulation. And only in Washington would the deregulatory anti-big-government Republicans lap it up with a spoon. The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) has petitioned the FCC and Congress to prohibit the new satellite radio competitors from providing local content (mostly traffic and weather). Of course, this is moving at hyperspeed, while the effort to impose real public interest obligations on the broadcasters moves at one quarter impulse. Still, I can’t help stirring the pot at the FCC and seeing what bubbles up.

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Unlicensed Spectrum in TV

The FCC has released its eagerly anticipated (or dreaded) Notice of Proposed Rule Making which would authorize the use of unlicensed spectrum access in the television bands. (Word, PDF, and Text). This is one of the real important proceedings before the FCC on unlicensed. You can be sure that major companies on both the pro-unlicensed and the anti-unlicensed side will file? But will you? Are you content to let Microsoft or Intel cut a deal with Viacom, News Corp and the rest of the media conglomerates for you? Or would you rather participate yourself and help define your own rights?

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Tales of the Sausage Factory: Of Open Access, Kicking Butt, and Why Arbs Don't Know Jack

The Ninth Circuit has given us another win in the fight to make cable plants open their facilities to independent ISPs (aka “open access” ). Winning feels good, especially when you predicted it over the odds given by the “experts”. The experts here are the industry analysts and arbitrageurs (or “arbs” ). What does it mean, and why are the experts so often wrong? See my opinions below.

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