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Media Ownership Hearing Sparks Mobilization of AFTRA Members

Los Angeles (Sept. 28, 2006) – Members of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists are mobilizing to participate in the Oct. 3 Federal Communications Commission public hearing on media ownership regulations.

AFTRA Los Angeles Local board members and activists are reaching out to the 25,000 AFTRA members in Southern California to attend and testify at the hearing to be held in locations near downtown Los Angeles and El Segundo.

"As the voice of America’s performers, broadcasters, and recording artists, AFTRA represents a wide spectrum of workers in the media and entertainment industries,” said AFTRA National President John Connolly. “On the job and in the community, AFTRA members have experienced first-hand the devastating effects of media consolidation. It is critically important that our voice is heard at the public hearing.”

The FCC is meeting in Los Angeles to hear comments to help guide its review of regulations governing how many television stations, radio stations, broadcast networks, and newspapers can be owned by any single company. Two years ago, the federal courts rescinded sweeping changes proposed by the FCC that would have substantially loosened media ownership rules.

In response to proposals to allow further media consolidation, Connolly said, “AFTRA members are very troubled by the loss of integrity and diversity in news coverage as a result of ongoing industry consolidation. We have witnessed an increased emphasis on the bottom line, the declining quality of community coverage, and too-little focus on complex issues. And in TV entertainment programming and radio, consolidation has driven an already herd mentality of copycat programming and formats to new depths of numbing duplication, with the disappearance of whole genres of TV drama, comedy, and variety programming and the closing off of the radio dial to many musical styles and diverse voices.”

The FCC will meet from 1 to 4:30 pm at the USC Davidson Conference Center and from 6:30 to 10 pm at El Segundo High School. After hearing a panel discussion at both sites, the commissioners will take testimony from the public. At the hearing on Oct. 3, AFTRA performers, broadcasters, and recording artists will provide personal examples of the effects of consolidation in the workplace.

The effort to mobilize AFTRA members to participate in the Oct. 3 hearing is latest in actions over the last decade to stop consolidation of media ownership by corporations. For more information, check out