by Andrew Walden
The Media Council Hawaii, joined by the Oahu County Democrat Committee, has been rejected by the FCC in the effort to push back on control of Honolulu media outlets by a non-Democrat company Raycom Media.
The decision was handed down November 22 by the FCC’s Media Bureau Chief, William T. Lake, and released online November 25. Media Council may seek review by the full Federal Communications Commission.
Here is the Media Council’s response to the FCC ruling:
In the order released today, the Media Bureau rejected Media Council Hawai'i's claims that Raycom had engaged in unauthorized transfer of control and violated the FCC's ownership limits when it took de facto control over a third television station in Honolulu. In essence, the Bureau concluded that HITV retained sufficient control under applicable FCC precedents such that no application to transfer was required. The Bureau agreed with Media Council Hawai`i that Raycom's control of the 2 network affiliates was at odds with the purpose and intent of the duopoly rule. But instead of enforcing the rule, the Bureau says it will include the issue of shared services in the 2010 quadrennial review, and that that it could consider the issue later when the stations come up for renewal. The order also admonishes fines the station $10,000, the base forfeiture amount, for public file violations.
Media Council Hawai'i is very disappointed with the Bureau's decision and will likely seek review by the full Commission.
This proves once again that the Media Council should stick to the kinds of things that it does best, like standing up for the rights of underpaid government censors in Bangladesh or trying to re-write Hawaii history.
FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION MEDIA BUREAU DELIVERS BLACK FRIDAY GIFT TO BROADCAST OWNERS AND SENDS THE PUBLIC CRUMBS.
News Release from Media Council Hawaii
In an order released today, the Federal Communications Commission’s Media Bureau rejected Media Council Hawaii’s claims that Raycom Media of Alabama engaged in unauthorized transfer of control and violated the FCC’s ownership limits when it took control of three television stations in Honolulu.
Chris Conybeare, president of Media Council of Hawaii, expressed great disappointment today with the Media Bureau order, which he described as “a Black Friday gift to big broadcast owners while leaving the public with crumbs.”
“We’re saddened by the order,” Conybeare said. “If allowed to stand, it will be a huge defeat for the people of Hawaii and for diverse voices and ideas!”
Conybeare said MCH will likely seek review by the full FCC commission and will also challenge renewal of station broadcast licenses. Conybeare said MCH is studying the order which was issued in Washington, D.C., this morning and will have more comments on the issues after consulting with the MCH membership.
Conybeare said he was perplexed that the Media Bureau could find in the order that the Raycom agreement was at odds with the intent and rules regarding duopoly operations and yet failed to take action.
In October 2009, MCH filed a complaint against the so-called “shared services agreement” between Raycom Media and HITV. Through the agreement, Raycom consolidated news operations in the three stations and effectively controlled two of the top four stations on Oahu.
In its order today, the Media Bureau agreed with Media Council Hawaii that Raycom’s control of two network affiliates (NBC and CBS) was at odds with the purpose and intent of rules against duopoly operations. But instead of enforcing the rule, the Media Bureau says it will include the issue of so-called “shared services” in the 2010 quadrennial review, and that it could consider the issue later when the stations come up for license renewal.
The order fined the station $10,000, the base forfeiture amount, for public file violations.
MCH is represented by Professor Angela J. Campbell of Georgetown Law School’s Institute for Public Representation.
Campbell said, “The Bureau’s failure to enforce the ownership limits here will be seen as a ‘green light’ for others to evade the TV duopoly rule by entering into similar sharing arrangements. The commitment to address the issue of shared service in the 2010 quadrennial review, while welcome, is likely to come too late to prevent the significant loss of diversity and competition from these shared services agreement.”