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Media mergers threatening popular culture

The Associated Press
Tuesday June 11, 2002

LOS ANGELES – Members of the television industry, expressing concern about the impact of media consolidation on programming quality and diversity, has asked for a federal study of the issue. 

In a letter to FCC chairman Michael K. Powell, TV creators called popular culture among “our great national treasures” and one that is under assault. 

“The harm comes about as a direct result of the growing concentration of ownership. The consequences of this new factor in our industry are — and this is no exaggeration — potentially catastrophic,” the Caucus for Television Producers, Writers & Directors said in its June 7 letter. 

While new technology has increased the number of radio and TV channels available “there has also been an alarming increase in the number of corporate entities which own and control these systems,” the caucus wrote. 

“We believe the FCC needs to consider these implications and the results deregulation has had upon the public interest,” the letter said. 

A call seeking FCC comment was not immediately returned Monday. 

The approximately 150-member caucus bills itself as the “creative conscience” of the TV industry and the only group to represent the writers, directors and producers guilds. 

Caucus members include Fay Kanin, former president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, writer Lionel Chetwynd (“Kissinger and Nixon”) and producer Norman Lear (“All in the Family”).