Letters From FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler Respond To Congress, Senate
May 12, 2014 at 4:41 AM (PT)
FCC Chairman TOM WHEELER has released the content of a series of letters he has sent to members of Congress and the Senate regarding various issues.
Among the responses, WHEELER sent identical letters to 11 Congresspersons discussing media ownership diversity, admitting that "what we know for sure is that minority and female ownership statistics are low. We also know that the Commission currently lacks the kind of data necessary to adopt race- or gender-based rules that could withstand the strict or heightened scrutiny judicial review that would apply to such measures."
The letters cite the conclusion in the recent Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that "reinstating the revenue-based eligible entity definition remanded by the Third Circuit will increase ownership opportunities for new entrants" and that he has pledged to create a special team to make recommendations on diversity for the 2014 Quadrennial Review by JUNE 30th, 2016.
A separate letter for Sen. BOB MENENDEZ (D-NJ) specifically addressed the long-delayed renewal of FOX MY NETWORK TV affiliate WWOR-TV (MY 9)/SECAUCUS, NJ-NEW YORK, agreeing that the process "has taken too long" and that WHEELER's staff had met with station representatives and a member of MENENDEZ's staff on APRIL 11th and will meet with other groups "as soon as schedules will allow." WHEELER also responded to MENENDEZ and Sen. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ) on the waiver of the rules limiting Traveler Information Stations to 10 watts for the station in HUDSON COUNTY, NJ, saying that the county's appeal of the denial of an increase to 100 watts is pending and a requested STA to operate at up to 1,100 watts in emergencies should be made as circumstances warrant.
On pirate radio stations, WHEELER told Rep. PETER KING (R-NY) that the Commission is enforcing its rules and has been enforcing a special initiative to shut down pirates in NEW YORK CITY, but that the stepped-up seizures "are unlikely on their own to solve the broader piracy problem" and that the Commission "is considering complementary efforts, including outreach and education, as well as encouraging lawful alternative information sources- such as Internet-based "radio" stations- that might serve the needs of the communities that otherwise provide an audience for pirate operators."
And on the controversial Critical Information Needs study that triggered allegations that WHEELER planned to regulate "fairness" in news programming, WHEELER asserted to Sens. DEB FISCHER (R-NE), TIM SCOTT (R-SC), and SUSAN COLLINS (R-ME) that "I made clear early on, and I reassert now, that I do not intend to re-establish the Fairness Doctrine, or to impose any government mandates in violation of the First Amendment."