MCH urges action by the FCC on consolidation complaint

HONOLULU – One year ago (Oct. 7, 2009), Media Council of Hawai`i filed, with the Federal Communications Commission, a complaint against a Shared Services Agreement involving consolidation of television stations KGMB, KHNL and KFVE in Honolulu. This agreement between Raycom Media, Inc. of Alabama and HITV License Subsidiary, Inc. led to the elimination of one news operation and homogenization of local voices in contravention of the FCCʼs stated goals of protecting and promoting diversity, competition and localism of the public airwaves.

MCH wants the FCC to take action now. Every day that passes with the consolidated stations allowed to operate is an affront to the public interest of all those in Hawai`i who believe that citizens need more and diverse information not less.

If the FCC has any doubt about the seriousness of the situation, we invite commissioners to this community to see for themselves the impact of one newsroom that provides the same news over three stations, to hear for themselves the impact of fewer voices heard because Raycom Media controls three stations, including two of the top four (CBS and NBC).

According to Journalism Professor, Gerald Kato: “Rulings over the past year supporting transparency in the business deal reveal that what has occurred in Hawai`i amounts to a transfer of ownership and control of these stations. If allowed to continue, the Shared Services

Agreement here and others across the country will render FCC regulation and rules involving the public interest meaningless. Our community, indeed, our nation, deserves better. We urge you to rule on this complaint now and put the needs of the people first and foremost in protecting the public airwaves.”

Statement of Angela Campbell, Institute for Public Representation Georgetown Law, and attorney representing the Media Council Hawaii before the FCC:

"Over the past year, we have made progress by forcing Raycom and HITV to release copies of their agreements and to make some changes. But the fundamental problems -- the combined news operations and Raycom's control of two of the top-ranked stations in violation of the FCC's rules -- remain. We urge the FCC to take prompt action to ensure that these stations serve the public interest."