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
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.
to www.dpeaflcio.org for more information.
Candice Johnson, CWA Communications, 202-434-1168
Rebecca Rhine, AFTRA, 415-713-8301 (cell)