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Cantwell Calls for Public Vote On Ownership - Broadcasting & Cable

Cantwell Calls for Public Vote On Ownership

Though she would prefer the FCC not make a move she says would weaken ownership diversity and localism
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Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) has asked FCC
Chairman Julius Genachowski to vote his media ownership order at its next
public meeting -- scheduled for Dec. 12 -- though she suggests that would be a
blow to diversity of ownership and viewpoints.

Actually,
she would prefer the FCC not adopt the draft proposal, which she says would
diminish diversity of "local views, viewpoints and opinions." But in
a letter to Genachowski Thursday,
Cantwell suggested that was preferable to the commissioners voting it in
private. It was circulated to the other commissioners for a vote and not
scheduled on either the November or December agenda.

She
opined that there were no public meetings or hearings on the proposed rules
after the chairman issued its rulemaking proposal in December 2011. That
proposal would loosen the newspaper-TV crossownership rules, lift limits on
newspaper-radio crossownership and allow radio-TV crossownership, while counting
some joint sales agreements toward local ownership caps that are being left in
place.

Cantwell
was particularly concerned about the FCC's suggestion that lifting the limits
on radio-TV and radio-newspaper ownership was ending "outdated
prohibitions." Instead, she said, they support diversity, competition and
localism.

She
wants the public meeting so the commissioners will have to publicly defend
their decision. "The American public needs to hear directly from you and
the other commissioners on this critical matter."

Cantwell
was a principal critic of the FCC's 2007 media ownership order, which similarly
tried to loosen crossownership regs, and cautioned Genachowski not to follow in
the footsteps of Kevin Martin, who presided over that effort.
That caution came in 2010, when the FCC was preparing to defend the Martin rule
changes.

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