Via America’s Lawyer: The Supreme Court greenlights media mega-mergers under the FCC. RT correspondent Brigida Santos joins Mike Papantonio to explain how corporate consolidation of media companies poses an existential threat to local news stations.

Transcript:

*This transcript was generated by a third-party transcription software company, so please excuse any typos.

Mike Papantonio:             A Supreme Court ruling will allow the FCC to loosen media ownership rules, paving the way for even more media consolidation. Brigida Santos joins me now to talk about the details of this. This is really kind of a nightmare, isn’t it, Brigida? This ruling is the final say on the issue of what does it mean for consumers is that that’s the suffering. The consumers are going to suffer because of this, the way I see it. What’s your take?

Brigida Santos:                   Yeah. The unanimous decision overturns a lower court ruling that blocked the FCCs 2017 repeal of media ownership regulations. So instead this new ruling cements that 2017 decision, which eliminated a 42 year ban on cross ownership of newspapers, television and radio stations in a given market by a single entity. So for consumers, this means less competition, fewer local news choices and less diversity of information and ideas. We already have a problem with monopolies in this country where just six companies control 90% of our media. This decision could consolidate media even further, which could of course increase media bias and lead to the suppression of information that just a few parent companies may not like.

Mike Papantonio:             Well, you know, this is actually being equated that the impact of this to Citizens United, this is actually being equated to it has that kind of impact for our culture. And to get, put it into perspective 1980, there were what almost 60 individual privately owned or corporately owned, but 60 media outlets. Now it’s down to three. So now we’re going to have NBC that owns your TV. They own your news, local newspaper. They own your radio. And you’re only going to want to hear what NBC says, because that’s all you’re going to have available. This is a win for broadcasters company. The money is going to just pour in because of this decision. Bill Clinton, if you’ll remember started this whole thing, when he opened the gates for media to buy, buy, buy. He started it during his presidency and now it’s just gotten worse. Hasn’t it?

Brigida Santos:                   Yeah. Look, there’s a lot of companies that support this decision, obviously. They include Fox Sinclair, News Corp, ABC, NBC, CBS and more. They say consolidation is going to help ensure the economic survival of local TV as advertisers increasingly shift to competing digital media companies. And back in 2020 Ajit Pai, then chairman of the FCC, claimed the rollbacks were going to empower struggling local news outlets to thrive in the modern media landscape. But in 2017, the FCC also tossed out a rule that banned TV stations in a single market for merging unless eight independently owned and operated stations remained in place. It also canned the main studio rule requiring TV and radio broadcasters to maintain local stations, to act in the interest of the local audiences they serve. Without these rules, local reporting jobs are drying up, especially in rural communities. These rollbacks have proven that media consolidation is not empowering local news, but instead allowing companies like Sinclair to create a national political narrative, and that’s incredibly dangerous.

Mike Papantonio:             We’re going to hear one voice and it is the voice of what the folks that own these big networks decide we should here. Matter of fact, how ridiculous is it Brigida for them to say that, you know, digital, that we don’t have any control over digital. If you watch this video, behind this video is going to be, everything behind is going to be NBC CNN. Where they’re in the digital market, too. They’re out there just like we are. It’s going to create a lack of diversity that’s going to be startling to the average consumer. How might this impact public trust in the media, which is already awful where you have, what is it, last number I saw was 80% of the, of the public, 80% believes that corporate media is a total failure. That’s why they’re cutting their cables. What’s your take?

Brigida Santos:                   Yeah. This obviously is not going to help that. This year’s Edelman Trust Barometer reveals that trust in traditional media has declined to historic lows and a Fall 2020 Gallup poll shows that American’s confidence in the media to report the news fairly, accurately and fully has been on decline for the past decade. So this decision is likely going to continue and worsen that trend.

Mike Papantonio:             And don’t think that social media is going to step in because they’re getting control of social media as well. Brigida, thank you for joining me. Okay. I, I feel like we have to do several more stories on this. This is an important topic.

Mike Papantonio is an American attorney and television and radio talk show host. He is past president of The National Trial Lawyers, the most prestigious trial lawyer association in America; and is one of the few living attorneys inducted into the Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame. He hosts the international television show "America's Lawyer"; and co-hosts Ring of Fire Radio, a nationally syndicated weekly radio program, with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Sam Seder.