Media Access Project runs out of funds, will shut down

The Media Access Project, a public-interest law firm focused on media issues, announced last week that it will close its doors May 1 due to a lack of funds. Raising funds for public-interest groups has become more challenging, said Andrew Jay Schwartzman, MAP’s senior v.p., and the firm’s “sophisticated, inside-the-Beltway” work is a hard sell for supporters. MAP had recently lost support from Open Society Foundations, the philanthropic organization established by liberal financier George Soros. Founded in 1973, the Washington, D.C.-based firm has added its voice to debates over diversity in media ownership, the FCC’s creation of its low-power FM service, net neutrality and other issues. MAP will host a sendoff event in May to celebrate its accomplishments and “to help retire its small debt,” the organization said in a press release.

“The Public Interest Standard in Television Broadcasting”

In 1998, the Clinton administration’s so-called Gore Commission reviewed the “public interest” basis of federal broadcasting law as part of its report on policies for the fast-approaching era of digital television. The Advisory Committee on Public Interest Obligations of Digital Television Broadcasters published its full 160-page report Dec. 18, 1998 (PDF). Federal oversight of all broadcasting has had two general goals: to foster the commercial development of the industry and to ensure that broadcasting serves the educational and informational needs of the American people. In many respects, the two goals have been quite complementary, as seen in the development of network news operations and in the variety of cultural, educational, and public affairs programming aired over the years.