WGA West president Victoria Riskin is taking the guild’s campaign against media consolidation directly to the FCC.
Riskin is meeting at FCC headquarters in Washington, D.C, with staff, and individually with all five commissioners this week. The FCC is expected to vote in summer on easing ownership caps, such as those preventing media congloms from owning multiple properties in one market.
The WGA West, Producers Guild and several indie producers have asked the FCC that 50% of a broadcast or cable net’s programming be produced by a company independent of the distributor or its affiliates. The FCC also is considering whether to lift a national cap barring a broadcaster from reaching more than 35% of the national aud.
Riskin has been among the most active opponents of FCC chief Michael Powell’s push to ease the regulations. She testified last month in Richmond, Va., at the FCC’s single public hearing, and contended barriers have been erected to keep all but a handful of voices from being heard in the “town square” represented by the media.
“As president of the WGA West, which represents the great majority of writers and producers who create primetime entertainment programs, I can tell you that over the past decade, diversity of production sources in the marketplace has been eroded to the point of near extinction,” she said, noting that in 1992, 15% of new series were produced for a network by a company it controlled compared with 77% last year.
“We ask that storytellers from all backgrounds be once again allowed independent access to America’s town square,” she said. “We ask these things because we believe that diverse programming from distinct and varied sources is the very definition of the public interest.”
Last month, the WGA West hired a lobbying firm, Washington, D.C.-based Public Strategies Inc., for representation on legislative and government affairs issues.