August 6, 2003
The undersigned organizations, which collectively represent nearly one-half million workers in news and entertainment, were disappointed to learn that you had withdrawn your name as a co-sponsor of S. 1046 the Preservation of Localism, Program Diversity, and Competition in Television Broadcast Service Act of 2003. We urge you to reconsider and give this critical legislation your support.
S. 1046 reverses a number of actions taken recently by the FCC to eradicate substantially public interest rules on media ownership. Deregulation on such an unprecedented scale will, we believe, diminish your constituentsâ first amendment right to what the Supreme Court has described as the ãuninhibited marketplace of ideasä and as such would do our democracy irreparable harm. If unchallenged, the Commissionâs action will unleash a feeding frenzy of corporate acquisitions and more monopolistic cross-ownership of radio, TV, newspapers, the Internet and other media pipelines will result. In the process, citizen access to diverse sources of information and entertainment will be vastly reduced and the quality of news and entertainment will be further compromised.
Our organizations believe that in todayâs already highly concentrated media market-place, robust competition and ownership diversity are essential to the health and viability of these twin sectors. We are convinced that FCC deregulation of this magnitude was ill-advised and that the U.S. Congress must now step in and take action. S.1046 represents an appropriate bipartisan response.
In the news and information business, competition and diversity help preserve localism in news coverage, enhance the quality and comprehensiveness of news content, assure a multiplicity of voices from a variety of independent sources and reduce the risk that news will be censored or slanted by a few controlling interests. In entertainment, they stimulate the kinds of creativity and variety in programming that the American public has come to expect but that has significantly diminished since FCC repeal of the Financial Interest and Syndication Rule in 1993.
In our democratic society, media ownership matters. It matters because ultimately it is the deciding factor that determines what your constituents have access to in news, entertainment and information. Most importantly, it matters to our democracy because an informed public is the bedrock of our free and open society.
If circumstances at this time do not allow you to co-sponsor S. 1046, then we would ask in the alternative that you vote for the legislation when it comes before the full Senate. Thank you for your consideration of this request.
|Actorsâ Equity Association||Patrick Quinn, President|
|American Federation of Television and Radio Artists||John Connolly, President|
|American Federation of Musicians||Thomas F. Lee, President|
|Communications Workers of America||Morty Bahr, President|
|Department for Professional Employees, AFL-CIO||Paul E. Almeida, President|
|Directors Guild of America||Michael Apted, President|
of Electrical Workers (Broadcast Division)
|Edwin D. Hill, President|
|International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees||Thomas C. Short, President|
|National Association of Broadcast Employees
and Technicians, CWA
|John S. Clark, President|
|National Writers Union (UAW 1981)||Marybeth Menaker, President|
|The Newspaper Guild, CWA||Linda K. Foley, President|
|Screen Actors Guild||Melissa Gilbert, President|
|Writers Guild of America, East||Herb Sargent, President|
|Writers Guild of America, West||Victoria Riskin, President|