National President of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists John Connolly spoke out against proposals to relax federal regulations on media ownership yesterday during the Federal Communications Commission's Town Hall Meeting at the University of Southern California.
The meeting was one of the half-dozen planned by FCC in order to hear the public's opinion as the Commission considers revising rules that would effectively eliminate meaningful limits on how many media outlets a company may own in any given market. Democratic Commissioners Jonathan S. Adelstein and Michael J. Copps were at USC to represent the FCC.
According to an AFTRA press release, Connolly said, "By allowing the reduction of outlets for diverse opinions via the concentration of power in fewer and fewer corporate hands, the Federal Communications Commission condemns Americans to a country where the public interest suffers, democracy suffers, and working people suffer... AFTRA members oppose the continued de-regulation of the media and entertainment industries — and the resulting continued concentration of ownership in fewer hands. We urge the commission to protect and enhance the fundamental right and public interest of the American people as true owners of the airwaves."
Although Connelly spoke largely on behalf of AFTRA members in the news media, the union has also expressed concern that unregulated consolidations could mean a decrease in jobs for actors as well.
On June 21, the Commission announced it will examine the media ownership rules, which were altered in 2003. On Aug. 2, 84 members of the House of Representatives signed a letter sent to FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, insisting the public be made aware of what the Commission is planning.