May 28, 2003 · Lessig
John Edwards has joined the long list of opponents to Chairman Powell’s plans to relax media ownership rules. His letter to Powell is posted below. Notice, appropriately, the punchline is a question about the FCC’s mandate: We should ask, exactly who elected Chairman Powell, and upon whose mandate is he pushing this change?
May 28, 2003
The Honorable Michael K. Powell
Chairman, Federal Communications Commission
Washington, D.C. 20554
Dear Chairman Powell:
I write to urge you not to increase the national
broadcast ownership cap and not to proceed with the
rulemaking scheduled for June 2.
Diversity in the media is enormously important to our
democracy. As consumers, Americans should have
choices in the music they can hear and the television
programs they can watch. As citizens, Americans
should have access to different ideas and points of
view. The government has a responsibility to foster
this diversity of expression. Unfortunately, the
FCC’s new rules are likely to undermine it.
The effects on rural America could be particularly
harmful. People in rural communities and small-town
America have distinctive interests, and local stations
offer programming that responds to these interests. In
recent years, local stations in rural North Carolina
have offered prime-time broadcasts of Atlantic Coast
Conference basketball games, Billy Graham crusades,
and muscular dystrophy telethons. All Americans can
appreciate the importance of offering local
programming tailored to local concerns. By
undercutting this diversity, the FCC’s new rules will
do a disservice to all Americans.
I have heard you suggest that with the growth of cable
and satellite television, broadcast diversity is no
longer important. That may be true in some affluent
communities, but many Americans do not have cable and
satellite television, especially in rural areas.
These Americans depend on broadcast news and
programming, and their programming should offer real
choices that are responsive to their interests.
I am especially troubled that your agency is
implementing these proposals without permitting
further public discussion. The FCC does not have a
mandate to make controversial decisions without giving
the public a full opportunity to comment. The fact
that two Commissioners have requested a delay should
signal to you that the prudent course, at the least,
is to postpone the vote and permit open public
Thank you for you consideration of this request.
cc: Commissioners Abernathy, Adelstein, Copps, and