By: Todd Shields
(Mediaweek) In choosing Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) as his running mate, Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) has chosen a like-minded opponent of media consolidation. Their stance contrasts with that of the incumbent Bush administration, which supports easing ownership restrictions.
Both Kerry and Edwards forcefully criticized last year’s decision by the Republican-dominated Federal Communications Commission to loosen media-ownership laws. Amid continuing legal battles, most of the proposed rules have yet to take effect, although big companies prevailed to win a loosened national limit on TV-station ownership in Congress.
The newspaper industry has generally supported easing the restrictions on ownership of broadcast outlets and daily newspapers in the same market.
In an address last year to the North Carolina Association of Broadcasters, Edwards called the loosened TV-ownership limits “a grievous mistake [and] a profound threat to diversity and democracy.” He also decried what he described as a loss of variety on radio.
Kerry, meanwhile, called the FCC decision “wrongheaded” and a “dereliction of duty.” Edwards and Kerry joined in co-sponsoring a Senate measure to reverse the FCC decision, although both missed the vote. The Senate passed the measure, which is still stalled in the House.
President Bush supported the FCC’s decision, saying it brought a necessary update to outmoded laws that had outlived their purpose in an era of media abundance.