Copyright 2001 The Seattle Times Company The Seattle
January 2, 2001, Tuesday Fourth Edition
SECTION: ROP ZONE; Opinion; Pg. B4
LENGTH: 362 words
Choose public-minded regulators at FCC, SEC
BODY: AS the new Bush administration takes shape,
keep a close eye on second- and third-tier nominees for regulatory commissions,
such as the Federal Communications and Security and Exchange commissions.
While relegated to the business segments of various media
and followed closely by captains of the industries most affected, consumers have
a huge stake in leadership of these agencies.
President-elect George W. Bush should keep that in mind as he selects
people for these jobs, choosing experienced pros who have demonstrated a clear
sense of allegiance to the larger public, not just the industry they will
At the SEC, Chairman Arthur Levitt will
resign in February after eight years at the helm. His tenure is marked by a new
openness in U.S. stock exchanges. Transparency and disclosure are standards in
today's stock market, not goals to aim for.
on Wall Street insiders in his efforts to improve investor access to better
information and prices in both the stock and bond markets. As individual
investors flocked to the market, his leadership at the SEC helped sustain
widespread public confidence.
Similarly, the public
interest is at stake in appointments to the FCC. There's a tussle at the agency
and within the industry over maintaining the 25-year ban on common ownership of
print and broadcast outlets in one market. Media conglomerates want an end to
the ban. Such a move would go right to the bottom line of media companies and
against the interests of consumers.
consumers are best served by a cacophony of independent and competing news
outlets, not by media mergers that lead inevitably to cross-ownership, often by out-of-town conglomerates, of
televison, radio and newspapers.
Current FCC Chairman
William Kennard has held the line against ending the ban on cross-ownership, but
the five-member commission is divided on the topic. Bush, his advisers and key
members of Congress should see that the next head of the FCC also puts the
public interest--diversity of media ownership--before that of corporate
executives bent on mergers and media cross-ownership in
communities across America.