Unions Applaud Appeals Court Decision
 Protecting  Media Democracy, Diversity

June 24, 2004, Washington, D.C. – Eleven national labor organizations representing more than half a million media workers called today’s appeals court decision that blocked the Federal Communications Commission’s rules on media consolidation an important victory for the public and for diversity of opinion.

The court’s decision reinforced the unions’ long-held public position: that the FCC reached its rules last June in a rush to judgment driven by ideology and the industry’s agenda, and without the serious debate and discussion necessary to protect the public interest.

In this important decision, the court determined that the FCC’s rules simply are not workable and make for bad public policy. As the FCC reconsiders this entire issue, it is imperative that any hearing process include full access and participation by all citizens and by the people who do the work.   

“We applaud the court’s recognition that the FCC’s decision to deregulate was flawed. But so was the process that got the agency there,” said Paul Almeida, president of the Department for Professional Employees, AFL-CIO. “Media ownership deregulation would radically reshape local media markets throughout the nation as well as restrict the availability and diversity of news, information and entertainment that America’s working families consume. Yet the agency steadfastly refused to talk to America through a process of field hearings to gauge public sentiment,” he said.

“The Court's ruling recognizes that the FCC did not give enough consideration to the views of the American public or media workers before it tried to implement big media's deregulatory agenda,” said Linda Foley, president of The Newspaper Guild-Communications Workers of America.

John Connolly, president of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, said, “today's court decision adds a legal weapon to the moral righteousness of our struggle against unfettered media consolidation.  By allowing the reduction of outlets for diverse opinions and the concentration of power in fewer and fewer corporate hands, the FCC had created a model where the public suffers, democracy suffers and workers suffer.  Finally, events appear to be converging to reverse that destructive trend.”

"The Writers Guild of America, East is proud to be a part of the effective effort to retain the FCC's media ownership rules.  A grassroots coalition of labor, public interest groups and concerned citizens has taken on a formidable opponent and proved that the voices of American citizens can and will be heard," stated Herb Sargent, president, Writers Guild of America, East.

“It is about time that someone restored sanity to the process of changing media ownership rules, rules that were designed to protect democracy. This is a victory for our members and for the American people,” said John Clark, president of the National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians-CWA.

The unions supported the call by FCC commissioners Copps and Adelstein for full public participation in any new review process, particularly Copps’ call that public hearings begin within 30 days.

“Should the agency revisit these rules, we again demand -- as we did before -- that full public hearings be held. As we have so often said throughout this debate, media ownership matters because in our democracy an informed public is the bedrock of our free and open society,” Almeida said.
The unions also said they will continue to back efforts by members of Congress to stop the concentration of media ownership.


Go to www.dpeaflcio.org for more information.

Candice Johnson, CWA Communications, 202-434-1168
Rebecca Rhine, AFTRA, 415-713-8301 (cell)

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