In his rush to gut the nation's longstanding media ownership limits, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, has not only angered the vast majority of Americans who think Big Media is already big enough.... he has angered a constituency with some serious clout: Harry Potter fans.
If that isn't a sign FCC Chairman Kevin Martin has gone too far, I don't know what is.
The Rise of 'Voldemedia'
In the epic Harry Potter series, one of the first things the bad guys did was to take over the major broadcast and print media so they could control the message and suppress other viewpoints.
As Andrew Slack, creator and director of the Harry Potter Alliance explains: "The Harry Potter books offer a vivid example of what can happen when too much media rests in the hands of too few. In the series, wizarding newspapers like the Daily Prophet put the magical community in serious jeopardy by denying Voldemort's return, failing to cover abuses from the Ministry and ultimately becoming a mouthpiece for Voldemort."
Even better is how Harry's followers fought back: They used an independent community newspapers and a low-power radio station to mobilize the opposition.
Potterwatch Fights Back with Wizard Rock
Today, reality and fiction are joining forces. The StopBigMedia.com Coalition has teamed up with the Harry Potter Alliance to launch Potterwatch -- a Web site that uses the Harry Potter series to illustrate the dangers of allowing giant corporations to swallow up local, diverse media outlets. We're building a real-world movement against "Voldemedia" -- the handful of companies that control most of what we see, hear and read every day.
The groups are urging fans and concerned citizens across the country to speak out against a plan by Chairman Martin to gut longstanding media ownership rules by Dec. 18 -- a move that would unleash consolidation in hundreds of local news markets.The Alliance is spreading the word with the help of 10 "Wizard Rock" bands that collaborated on a digital album called "Rocking Out Against Voldemedia." The bands -- which include Harry and the Potters, the Remus Lupins and the Whomping Willows -- sing pop-punk songs based on the series, and warn about the dangers of media consolidation. http://www.stopbigmedia.com/potterwatch We Need More Than Magic
Kevin Martin -- who some say resembles a certain boy wizard -- wants to lift the longstanding ban that keeps one company from owning both a major daily newspaper and a TV or radio station in the same market. The 32-year-old prohibition on "newspaper/broadcast cross-ownership" has helped prevent media monopolies in local news markets.
Although Martin seems deaf to the tremendous public outcry, Congress is starting to pay attention. Last week the House held an FCC oversight hearing, and they've launched a formal investigation into the way the FCC conducts business. The Senate is holding its own hearing on Thursday.
The Senate Commerce Committee has already passed the Media Ownership Act of 2007 (S. 2332) legislation that would force the FCC to stop its rush and address the dismal state of female and minority media ownership. The bipartisan bill has 20 co-sponsors, but time is running out.
Hundreds of thousands of people from all walks of life and across the political spectrum have protested, showing up at public hearings, writing the FCC and calling on Congress to stop a massive giveaway to Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., Tribune Co., Gannett and the other media giants.
With enough public pressure, we can still stop this massive giveaway. Wizards and muggles alike should spread the word -- and call their senators today.