May 2, 2003

Pop Artists Make Noise About Media Regulations

"A veritable who's who of the pop music world are urging federal regulators to give the public and lawmakers a chance to review any changes made in the regulations that govern media ownership.

"In a letter to the Federal Communications Commission, 34 recording artists ranging from Jimmy Buffett to Michael Stipe said the changes should be fully vetted before they win final approval.

"'A refusal to allow Congress and the public to view and debate your specific proposal would be a tremendous disservice to the American public and the citizens who depend on these media structures for their livelihoods,' the artists wrote.

"The recording artists fear that easing the rules will lead to more centralized control of the nation's media outlets and will make it more difficult for competing voices to be heard. In their letter, they criticized the FCC for failing to include recording artists in its deliberations.

"'We believe the record demonstrates both the value of existing media ownership rules and the dangers in permitting widespread consolidation of ownership,' they wrote. 'We also believe the FCC has been negligent in listening to important stakeholder groups, like musicians, recording artists and radio professionals, to ensure their testimony is on the record.'

"The musicians were particularly critical of recent Powell comments that appeared to dismiss concerns that negative repercussions could result from easing the rules.

"'In a recent speech, you referred to your critics as 'noisemakers' using the 'usual alarmist political attacks designed just to prevent change,"' they wrote. 'With all due respect, we may be sounding an alarm, but we are not alarmist noisemakers. We are the concerned citizens and small-business owners whose welfare you are charged to protect. We ask for your respect and protection.'

The letter signers included: Jackson Browne, Thurston Moore, Jimmy Buffett, Stevie Nicks, David Crosby, Neil Diamond, Van Dyke Parks, Pearl Jam, Don Henley, Tom Petty, Indigo Girls (Amy Ray and Emily Saliers), Bonnie Raitt, Billy Joel, Ian MacKaye, Michael Stipe, Ray Manzarek, Tom Waits, Tim McGraw, Nancy Wilson, and Paul D. Miller (aka DJ Spooky).


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