For Immediate Release:
November 16, 2017
FCC Votes for Massive Corporate Giveaway at Expense of Consumers: Agency Greenlights Further Media Consolidation, Destruction of Lifeline Program, Disruptive Tech Transitions
Today, the Federal Communications Commission voted to eliminate four decades of protections against rampant media consolidation, despite already low numbers of local and diverse voices. In addition to removing limitations on the cross-ownership of newspapers, radio and TV stations in the same market, the FCC also voted for changes that would prevent millions from accessing the Lifeline program, the nation’s only program to bring phone and Internet services within reach for millions of low income Americans. By barring non-facilities based providers from offering Lifeline, nearly 70 percent of families in need are in jeopardy of losing service.
Addressing the FCC’s vote to impose new restrictions on the reach of Lifeline to low-income subscribers, Carmen Scurato, director of policy and legal affairs at the National Hispanic Media Coalition said:
“Far too many Americans cannot afford to get online and stay online, and Lifeline is the only program that offers to help them. Today’s vote is an unacceptable erosion of this program that threatens to further widen the digital divide and keep critical communications services, as well as the economic opportunity it brings, out of reach for millions of families. The FCC has also failed to consult with the sovereign Tribal Nations prior to adopting these proposed changes to the Lifeline program, a clear violation of the trust responsibility and its government-to-government relationship with the Tribes. If we want to put Americans and Tribal Nations on the path to prosperity, the FCC must improve the Lifeline program–not destroy it.”
In response to the elimination of local media ownership rules, Carmen Scurato, replied:
“By striking down media ownership rules today, this Commission has laid the groundwork for even greater corporate ownership of the public airwaves in order to rubber stamp the Sinclair-Tribune deal. Local and diverse voices on our airwaves were already sparse before the FCC vote today. They will become even more rare as large national conglomerates now have the greenlight to force owners of color out of the market. Instead of catering to corporate wishlists, the Commission should focus its time on finding ways to promote the values it was created to support–diversity, localism and competition–rather than impeding them.”
On revoking the rules that ensure consumers, public safety officials, government entities and competitive carriers receive timely notice of technology transitions, Francella Ochillo, policy counsel at the National Hispanic Media Coalition, added:
“Despite having a plan in place for a smooth transition, the FCC is opting to leave the 48 million Americans with legacy copper lines vulnerable to corporations who now have no obligation to give them proper notice of changes to the lines they use to make emergency calls and stay connected. This vote disproportionately affects rural and elderly residents who have no alternatives for affordable and reliable service. They all must now face the risk that their service could be cut off without adequate advance notice and the dangerous possibility that a dependable replacement service does not exist.”
The National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC) is the media watchdog for the Latino community, ensuring that we are fairly and consistently represented in news and entertainment and that our voices are heard over the airwaves and on the internet.
We exist to challenge executives and influencers throughout the entertainment and news industry to eliminate barriers for Latinos to express themselves and be heard through every type of medium. NHMC works to bring decision-makers to the table to open new opportunities for Latinos to create, contribute and consume programming that is inclusive, free from bias and hate rhetoric, affordable and culturally relevant.