Saturday, November 26, 2011
Media Council Hawaii press release on FCC Black Friday decision
Media Council Hawaii issued the press release below late yesterday. I can’t say it better than they did, so here it is. Please refer to the previous article (or download here) for a copy of of the FCC Media Bureau order.
FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION MEDIA BUREAU DELIVERS BLACK FRIDAY GIFT TO BROADCAST OWNERS AND SENDS THE PUBLIC CRUMBS.
In an order released today, the Federal Communications Commission’s Media Bureau rejected Media Council Hawaii’s claims that Raycom Media of Alabama engaged in unauthorized transfer of control and violated the FCC’s ownership limits when it took control of three television stations in Honolulu.
Chris Conybeare, president of Media Council of Hawaii, expressed great disappointment today with the Media Bureau order, which he described as “a Black Friday gift to big broadcast owners while leaving the public with crumbs.”
“We’re saddened by the order,” Conybeare said. “If allowed to stand, it will be a huge defeat for the people of Hawaii and for diverse voices and ideas!”
Conybeare said MCH will likely seek review by the full FCC commission and will also challenge renewal of station broadcast licenses. Conybeare said MCH is studying the order which was issued in Washington, D.C., this morning and will have more comments on the issues after consulting with the MCH membership.
Conybeare said he was perplexed that the Media Bureau could find in the order that the Raycom agreement was at odds with the intent and rules regarding duopoly operations and yet failed to take action.
In October 2009, MCH filed a complaint against the so-called “shared services agreement” between Raycom Media and HITV. Through the agreement, Raycom consolidated news operations in the three stations and effectively controlled two of the top four stations on Oahu.
In its order today, the Media Bureau agreed with Media Council Hawaii that Raycom’s control of two network affiliates (NBC and CBS) was at odds with the purpose and intent of rules against duopoly operations. But instead of enforcing the rule, the Media Bureau says it will include the issue of so-called “shared services” in the 2010 quadrennial review, and that it could consider the issue later when the stations come up for license renewal.
The order fined the station $10,000, the base forfeiture amount, for public file violations.
MCH is represented by Professor Angela J. Campbell of Georgetown Law School’s Institute for Public Representation.
Campbell said, “The Bureau’s failure to enforce the ownership limits here will be seen as a ‘green light’ for others to evade the TV duopoly rule by entering into similar sharing arrangements. The commitment to address the issue of shared service in the 2010 quadrennial review, while welcome, is likely to come too late to prevent the significant loss of diversity and competition from these shared services agreement.”