Comcast Corp.'s rejection of advertisements protesting a possible United
States war with Iraq illustrated the need for federal rules restricting the size
of media companies, a consumer advocate said Wednesday.
"Comcast's rejection of an anti-war ad underscores the problem we have in the
United States because of media consolidation. An ever-decreasing number of
conglomerates control access to TV," said Jeff Chester, executive director of
the Center for Digital Democracy.
According to the Associated Press, a group called the Peace Action Education
Fund planned to pay $5,000 to have six 30-second ads run on Cable News Network
in the Washington, D.C., market around the time of President Bush's State of the
"Comcast runs advertisements from many sources representing a wide range of
viewpoints, pro and con, on numerous issues of importance to the public," an MSO spokesman said.
"However, we must decline to run any spot that fails to substantiate certain
claims or allegations. In our view, this spot raises such questions."
Chester's group is advocating retention of various media-ownership rules that
the Federal Communications Commission is considering relaxing or
Chester said caps on media ownership would ensure that "a diverse marketplace
of ideas" would not "be held hostage by giants like Comcast."
The FCC is nearing a decision on new cable ownership limits. FCC chairman
Michael Powell said Wednesday that he didn't see a direct link between ad
policies and the size of a cable company.
"I don't think that necessarily is attributable to being big or not," Powell
told reporters. "Issues like that have been around public policy and the
commission since the beginning of time."
Powell also expressed doubt that the agency could investigate Comcast's
"I really don't want to comment on whether I think Comcast has done a good
thing or bad thing. I am skeptical that we have much authority about what ads
they carry," he added.