Washington

More Dems Diss FCC Ownership Proposal

Eshoo, Doyle among those counseling wait-and-vet approach 12/14/2012 12:54:07 PM Eastern

Add Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) and a quartet of other House
Energy & Commerce Committee Democrats to those pushing FCC chairman Julius
Genachowski to hold off on a vote on changes to the commission's media
ownership rules until he follows what they say is the Third Circuit's mandate
to gauge the impact of the rules on ownership diversity.

They
say,
for one thing, that the FCC should not use the rise of online news
sources as a justification for loosening ownership rules.

But in that argument, they make a good case for why
broadcasting remains relevant and vital and cannot be simply supplanted by the
vaunted broadband revolution, an
argument National Association of Broadcasters president Gordon Smith
has
been making in essentially the same terms. In fact Eshoo and Smith were
together earlier this week as they marked
the launch of FCC enforcement of Eshoo's CALM Act,
which regularizes the
volume between programs and ads/promos

"[L]ocal television and radio stations are the
essential -- and sometimes the only -- source of local news and information in
many communities. As the commission's own research demonstrates," they
write, "local TV stations and local newspapers remain the dominant sources
of local news, even online through their websites.... The American public
deserves to have choice in the medium through which they access news and
information, online via their tablets, smart phones and laptops or via their
local television and radio stations."

Chairman Genachowski has indicated the proposed rule change --
loosening the newspaper/TV cross-ownership rules and lifting limits on
newspaper/radio and TV/radio cross-ownership -- have been informed by ownership
studies and the FCC's 323 biennial ownership report, but that more study -- and
the budget to conduct it -- is needed before the FCC can provide proper
justification for associated diversity initiatives the court said were
insufficiently buttressed.

He has also pushed back his plan to vote on the ownership
proposals until at least the first of the year to allow for more comment on the
323 report--which found little improvement in minority ownership, and some
declines.

Also signing on to the letter were  Mike Doyle (Pa.),
Edolphus Towns (N.Y.), Donna Christensen (V.I.), and Bobby Rush (Ill.).

Rush
and Eshoo were among several legislators who criticized the media ownership
item
at a spectrum hearing in the House Communications Subcommittee Dec. 12.
Rush was particularly pointed in his criticism of what he said was platitudes
but little action out of the commission on diversity over almost two decades.

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