Report: Martin Moving Ahead With Plan To Ease FCC Ownership Rules
October 18, 2007 at 6:06 AM (PT)
The NEW YORK TIMES is reporting that FCC Chairman KEVIN MARTIN is circulating an "ambitious plan" to ease media ownership rules, including formally repealing the cross-ownership rule, and has a 3-2 majority supporting the plan. The new rules would also relax limits on the number of stations a company can own in a single market.
MARTIN told the TIMES that he was looking to reach consensus but, "We’ve had six hearings around the country already; we’ve done numerous studies; we’ve been collecting data for the last 18 months; and the issues have been pending for years. I think it is an appropriate time to begin a discussion to complete this rule-making and complete these media ownership issues."
Commissioner MICHAEL COPPS, who objects to any relaxing of the rues, told the TIMES, "We shouldn’t be doing anything without having a credible process and nothing should be done to get in the way of Congressional oversight and more importantly, public oversight. We’ve got to have that public scrutiny. That was one of the big mistakes that (former Chairman) Mr. (MICHAEL) POWELL made, and he was taken to the woodshed by the Third Circuit. I fear it is déjà vu all over again."
Dorgan, Lott Tell Martin To Slow Down
And true to his indication at yesterday's Senate Commerce Committee hearing, Sen. BYRON DORGAN (D-ND), joined by Sen. TRENT LOTT (R-MS), sent a letter to MARTIN telling him that his DECEMBER goal for completing the ownership rules review is "not enough" time. The letter asks MARTIN to wait until the Commission's localism study is completed and commenters have had "at least 90 days" to comment before going ahead with the new ownership rules proposal. "We strongly encourage you to slow down and proceed with caution," the letter states, "maintaining the public-interest goals of localism, diversity and competition as top priorities."