With only one hour before the scheduled start of Tuesday's public meeting, three items were pulled from the Federal Communications Commission's agenda: a proposal on what to do about its sponsorship-identification rules, a wireless-competition report and already-approved rules for digital-audio satellite-radio services.
The sponsorship-ID item was an inquiry into how and whether broadcasters needed to better identify products that advertisers had paid to integrate into a story line. Criticism of the practice had been raised in media-ownership hearings, and Martin was looking to address a series of media-ownership issues during the meeting in an effort to wrap up the media-ownership-rule review, which could still happen without the sponsorship-ID item on the menu.
But still on the docket was a vote on Martin's proposal to modify the newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership rules. He is expected to modify that modification to make the waiver standard for combinations in smaller markets tougher to meet. That came in response to criticisms that it was a loophole.
Martin proposed allowing newspaper-broadcast combinations in the top 20 markets, but only with stations rated below the top four. He also proposed allowing them on a case-by-case basis in smaller markets where the deals met certain public-interest criteria related to the financial health of the properties of the promise of more news, but critics of the plan argued that those criteria were too vague.