FCC Commissioners Testify Before House Oversight Panel
March 14, 2007 at 5:48 AM (PT)
All five FCC commissioners testified before the House Energy and Commerce Committee's Telecommunications subcommittee today (3/15) at an oversight hearing in WASHINGTON. Committee Chairman JOHN DINGELL (D-MI) and subcommittee Chairman ED MARKEY (D-MA) grilled Chairman KEVIN MARTIN on several topics, including the Commission's slow process on ownership and localism issues, with MARKEY pressing MARTIN on the completion of public interest obligations for digital TV stations and DINGELL suggesting that the panel hold monthly oversight hearings and asking for a report on the ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS talk-for-pay controversy.
MARTIN's prepared statement focused on broadband development and telecommunications competition, as did the statements of Commissioners DEBI TATE and ROBERT MCDOWELL, while Commissioner MICHAEL COPPS concentrated on the need for changing ownership rules and suggesting that "there is a thirst -- one that I share -- for us to revisit the bad old rules that got us into this predicament in the first place. What many people want, and I wholeheartedly agree, is to bring back some basic public interest standards -- a responsibility to serve the common good -- to the broadcast media and to bring the spirit of public interest to other media as well." COPPS called for a "credible broadcast re-licensing system" as part of a stricter new regulatory structure. Commissioner JONATHAN ADELSTEIN touched on the need to conclude the FCC's localism proceeding "before, not after, our review of the broadcast ownership rules."