Media stew

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Metro area residents concerned about the effects of media conglomeration and consolidation can do more than mumble in disgust. A town hall meeting featuring two members of the Federal Communications Commission is coming to town.

The event will be held in Dearborn on Tuesday, Sept. 14. The national nonprofit group Free Press (not to be confused with a certain daily newspaper with the same name) is sponsoring the event in conjunction with a host of local groups ranging from the American-Arab Antidiscrimination Committee and Southeast Michigan Jobs with Justice to the Communications Workers of America Local 4100.

Dearborn is one of four locations across the country hosting such a meeting. Jill Fitzsimmons, a field organizer for the Massachusetts-based Free Press, says Dearborn was selected, in part, because of geography. “We wanted a location that was accessible to Midwesterners,” says Fitzsimmons.

In addition, she says, Michigan is a “vibrant” area when it comes to opposition to media consolidation, she says, with labor unions and minority groups paying particular attention to the increasingly homogenized media landscape.

The meeting comes at a particularly important time for two reasons.

First, there is a June 24 ruling by a federal appeals court ruling that overturned key components of FCC rule changes instituted last year that dramatically loosened regulations regarding media ownership.

“Now that the court has sent media ownership rules back to the drawing board, we need citizens to step up once again,” declares a message on the Free Press Web site ( “This time around, let’s make sure the FCC listens to the public, not Big Media lobbyists, when it crafts ownership rules.”

Among the rule changes struck down by the court were provisions that would have allowed one company to own three TV stations, eight radio stations and the monopoly newspaper in any single market, according to Free Press.

The other reason this meeting is important now is that next year Congress will “consider landmark legislation that will have implications well beyond media ownership,” according to Free Press. “It will determine who controls access to information on the Internet, the use of the public airwaves, the ways you can (and cannot) use information once you have it, and beyond. In short: the shape of our entire media system for years to come will be reshaped.”

The town hall meeting will be held Tuesday, Sept. 14, from 5:30-9:30 p.m. at the Ford Community and Performing Arts Center, 15801 Michigan Ave., Dearborn. For more information go to the Free Press Web site or call 734-678-9868.

Contact News Hits at 313-202-8004 or [email protected]
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