Senators Push Localism Over New Media Ownership Rules
June 7, 2006 at 6:39 AM (PT)
With the FCC now fully staffed with five commissioners following the swearing in of ROBERT MCDOWELL (Net News 6/2), commissioner KEVIN MARTIN is preparing to move forward with his agenda, one aspect of which has caused concern among a couple of prominent senators.
TRENT LOTT (R-MS) and BYRON DORGAN (D-NC) sent a letter to MARTIN last week asking him to have the commission tackle the issue of local broadcast content before moving into the issue of new media ownership rules, which will likely be a top priority for the commission now that Republicans are in the majority.
The senators specifically asked the commission to complete a 2003 proceeding on local public interest service by broadcasters before moving toward further deregulation of ownership rules. "The FCC must first establish that there are sufficient mechanisms in place to ensure that broadcasters are serving their local communities before any loosening of ownership can occur," said the senators in their letter to MARTIN.
Former FCC Chairman MICHAEL POWELL argued that deregulating ownership rules was a procedural matter, and launched a separate proceeding to look into the impact of deregulation on localism in 2003. Now, Chairman MARTIN appears to be ready to move forward with the deregulation proceeding at the FCC's JUNE 15th meeting, but the local public interest proceeding is not a part of the proposed notice, according to a source.