Strength in Numbers? Public Participation in the Media Ownership Proceeding at the Federal Communication Commission

30 Pages Posted: 31 Jul 2012

See all articles by JoAnne Holman

JoAnne Holman

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: August 15, 2005

Abstract

This paper studies the role of ICTs in public participation in administrative agency rulemaking. It examines the 2002-2003 media ownership rulemaking proceeding before the Federal Communication Commission (Federal Communications Commission [FCC], 2002a). This proceeding included extensive use the Internet, e-mail, the Web, and blogs by various public-interest groups and media-reform groups, and many individual members of the public who used these ICTs to communicate with the Commission and with each other (McChesney, 2004). Public participation for this proceeding could be ‘transacted’ entirely online as well as by traditional means, and the public chose to use ICTs to submit comments to the FCC in unusually large numbers. In its Report and Order, adopted on June 2, 2003, the FCC reported that more than 500,000 informal comments were received from individuals. (FCC, 2003a). Approximately 200,000 of these had been transmitted electronically (Ahrens, 2003a; Labaton, 2003); public interest groups and advocacy groups estimated that over 2 million comments were ultimately submitted (see, e.g., Pingree, 2003). This paper examines how ICTs were used by public-interest groups and other media advocacy groups to facilitate public participation in this proceeding. Given the fact that – despite the numerous, coordinated campaigns employing ICTs that elicited ‘vociferous and voluminous’ (Noveck, 2004a, 448) public opposition to the Commission’s proposed media ownership rule changes – the FCC commissioners voted to roll back those restrictions anyway, what conclusions can we draw about ICTs as additional and effective channels of communication in the rulemaking process?

Suggested Citation

Holman, JoAnne, Strength in Numbers? Public Participation in the Media Ownership Proceeding at the Federal Communication Commission (August 15, 2005). TPRC 2005, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2120246

JoAnne Holman (Contact Author)

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

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