Diane E Watson writes in MediaChannel.org:
"I believe we are at a dramatic crossroad in the fight for greater media diversity. Today, decades of irresponsible deregulation in telecommunication policy has created great discontent among consumers who are angry at the lack of choices among an extremely concentrated media market.
Eliminating Choice and Racing to the Bottom
When big media get larger, and the race for audiences turns to the lowest denominator in trash programming as an appeal to the broadest possible audience, these conglomerates move further away from quality programming and the principles of diversity, localism, and competition, which is crucial to serving the public interest.
Furthermore, the public is frustrated by the ever-increasing price of pre-packaged cable programming. They want choices in the selection of cable channels that they receive and subsidize. That is why both Congress and the FCC are closely examining the issue of a la carte cable programming. Today, more than 80 percent of the 91 major cable television networks are owned or co-owned by six media conglomerates. The existing cable and satellite programming packages are inherently anti-competitive, since the types of bundles cable subscribers receive are loaded with extra channels demanded by media conglomerates or cable operators, not consumers.
Thus, the public is forced to subsidize many television programming that an individual may never watch, or even find offensive. Many independent programmers and start-up channels, among them religious broadcasters, are denied the opportunity for carriage because of the anti-competitive structure of the cable market.
MORA 2004: Unraveling the Conglomerates
Recently, Representative Maurice Hinchey and I have introduced H.R. 4069, the Media Ownership Reform Act of 2004, which seeks to undo the massive consolidation of the media that has been ongoing for nearly 20 years, and writing into statute precise limitations to a company's ability to own and operate media outlets in a single market.
Among its many provisions, the bill would restore the Fairness Doctrine, reinstate a national cap on ownership of radio stations, and lower the number of radio stations one company can own in a local market. It would also keep in place the current cross ownership rules regarding newspaper and broadcast ownership, local TV ownership rules, and prohibit one company from owning a TV station and a cable system in the same local market."