Senators Probe FCC Procedures
December 4, 2007 at 12:14 PM (PT)
With FCC Chairman KEVIN MARTIN poised to vote in relaxed media consolidation regulations -- albeit very small revisions --- on Dec. 18th, two powerful members of the House Energy and Commerce Commission are launching an investigation of the FCC and the Chairman, charging MARTIN with a "possible abuse of power" in not conducting business fairly and openly.
Rep. JOHN DINGELL (D-MI) and BART STUPAK (D-MI) have informed MARTIN of the probe, which is looking into allegations that the Commission has voted on proposed rule changes before making them fully available to the public and that MARTIN has not provided enough time for other commissioners to consider new proposals before ordering a vote.
The Commissioners are scheduled to appear before the committee in an oversight hearing WEDNESDAY, with a Senate committee also scheduled to hear testimony from the commissioners next week. WEDNESDAY's hearing will also include a second panel with CLEAR CHANNEL's ANDREW LEVIN, the MEDIA ACCESS PROJECT's ANDREW J. SCHWARTZMAN, ALLBRITTON COMMUNICATIONS' JERALD FRITZ, the NEWSPAPER ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA's JOHN STURM, journalist JUAN GONZALEZ, BLISS COMMUNICATIONS' SIDNEY BLISS and the NATIONAL CONGRESS OF BLACK WOMEN's FAYE WILLIAMS.
Some observers consider the hastily-announced hearing a parting shot by anti-consolidation forces in CONGRESS to exert public pressure on MARTIN to stop the rule changes. Apparently, bills to stop MARTIN's apparent interests have virtually no chance of being passed and enacted before the DEC. 18th meeting -- especially since Pres. BUSH would veto it, forcing a veto override.