Howard Dean today wrote to FCC Chairman Michael Powell, urging the FCC to avoid further deregulation of the American media. The text of the letter:
Dear Chairman Powell,
Americans cherish the freedom of the press -- and the diversity of the press that ensures they can get access to the truth and to the information they need. The Bush Administration may not appreciate that freedom and diversity, but they should not tamper with it.
On June 2nd, the Federal Communications Commission should decide against allowing a single company to own multiple television stations, radio stations, and newspapers in a single town. The Bush Administration has urged the FCC to remove regulations that protect every Americans' right to a free press. This latest attempt by the Bush Administration to undermine the American ideals enshrined in our Constitution is wrong.
This deregulation, like so many actions pushed for by the Bush administration, would benefit a few at the expense of the rest of us. Modifying the ban in most cities on cross-ownership of television and radio stations and newspapers will have serious repercussions for every American. A similar deregulation of radio, through the 1996 Telecommunications Act, has resulted in a 30% decline of independently-owned radio stations in the United States. This decline has reduced Americans' access to local news via radio. According to a May 27 Bloomberg story, in at least one instance local authorities were delayed in broadcasting important emergency information to the local populace because the "local" radio station was broadcast from out-of-state. Accelerating the disappearance of independent local media by further deregulating television and newspaper ownership is the wrong direction for this country.
In my travels around the country, I have discovered that this proposed deregulation is one of the foremost issues on peoples' minds. I am asked about it everywhere--in small towns in New Hampshire, and in major cities across the nation. The American people are concerned about the future of their media, and the effect this decision will have on them. Thousands of Americans have written the FCC to oppose this rule, and members of Congress from both parties have voiced their protest and requested that you testify before them on the matter. Yet the FCC appears poised to ignore the interests of regular Americans by allowing a few massive conglomerates to gobble up our local news sources.
This proposed deregulation threatens the ideals of America--the ideals of openness, free speech, free expression and free discussion, which are the backbone of our Constitution and our democracy.
Therefore, I urge you to take the following actions:
1) Delay the June 2nd vote by the FCC.
2) Testify before Congress so that the Representatives of the American people can have the opportunity to question the representatives of the Bush Administration.
3) Allow for, and consider, additional public input. The FCC must provide sufficient opportunity for public input on a decision that effects every American.
I appreciate your consideration.
Governor Howard Dean, M.D.