The drama ensued.
It was quite the localism hearing yesterday at the FCC, which I attended. Much of what was happening in the room was like Kabuki theater.
The commissioners got a big dose of “we don’t like big media” from the public, from the protestors and official speakers testifying.
The most colorful speakers were “the FCC cheerleaders” who looked like the Prometheus members to me, chanting “2–4–6–8. Who do we consolidate!” The woman who led this cheer told the commissioners the demonstration would have been “way better” with pom poms, but the security guards wouldn’t let her bring those into the room.
A protestor dressed in a French maid outfit said she was representing a “corporate media whore.” She began by taking off her jacket; at that point commission staffers running the meeting were worried about what else she might remove.
The levity was refreshing after sitting through hours of sobering testimony about media ownership.
At the start of the hearing, it was clear the Democratic commissioners are still smarting at the short hearing notice and reports the chairman wants to complete the media ownership proceeding with a vote by year-end. They’re also not pleased at the chairman’s decision to fold in localism with the larger media ownership proceeding.
That tension spilled out a little when Commissioner Adelstein said he hadn’t been able to meet with the FCC’s localism task force and he wanted to remind everyone that “the staff works for the commission, not just the chairman.”
Chairman Martin disputed Adelstein’s version, saying new people are now in charge of that task force from when it was started under previous Chairman Powell and that Adelstein had asked to meet with the old staff. Martin suggested Adelstein get with both old and new staff for that project for a complete update.
Martin began reciting all the things he had proposed a year ago under the localism umbrella to improve minority and other new entrant access to media ownership, including reviving a version of the minority tax certificate program, eliminating or relaxing rules for LPFMs to increase their numbers and allowing AMs to operate on FM translators.
At this point, it became hard to hear; one of the protestors was arguing with the guards over being removed from the room and a crowd formed around them behind me. They eventually let her, and the other protestors, back in their seats.
The drama ensued.