The legacy of the 1996 radio deregulation, which resulted in Clear Channel owning 1,200 of America's radio stations (now becoming increasingly centralised and providing less local programming) has given rise to serious opposition to the suggested changes. Internet campaigns, members of Congress, the National Rifle Association, and even some media barons have all expressed their concerns.
The FCC believes that the Internet will prevent America from becoming a media monoculture, so consolidation of TV and print channels shouldn't have too much of an impact. Leaving aside a recent study that indicates that as much as half of the population of the USA is not interested in going online, this idea is flawed. The companies that own the Internet connections, for example RoadRunner, are intimately connected with the media empires (RoadRunner is part of AOL/TimeWarner). How is the Internet supposed to be the saviour of the media when the media empires own the communications links, as well as the TV stations and newspapers? How can new companies emerge when the Baby Bells aren't forced to share the fibre connections?
This is the point where we British can get smug, and say "well, that'd never happen here." Possibly not to the same extent, no, but worrying developments are just over the horizon. The Government is currently pursuing a new Communications Bill which would relax foreign ownership and overall percentage restrictions from the UK. ClearChannel has already expressed an interest about buying several UK radio stations after the Bill becomes law. I give you Lowry Mays, head of Clear Channel:
If anyone said we were in the radio business, it wouldn't be someone from our company. We're not in the business of providing news and information. We're not in the business of providing well-researched music. We're simply in the business of selling our customers' products.
Not exactly Reithian, is it?