Free Press estimates that about 400 people filled the Broad Street Presbyterian Church in Columbus, Ohio for a town meeting on media ownership that featured the first FCC majority--three out of the five commissioners-- to attend one of the unofficial gatherings.
The FCC is reviewing its media ownership rules with an eye toward loosening some of them. Three of five commissioners were in attendance, Democrats Jonathan Adelstein and Michael Copps and Republican Robert McDowell.
Adelstein and Copps are regular attendants of the meetings, but it was McDowell's first appearance. McDowell was the first Republican to attend any the Free Press hearings--of which there has been over a dozen.
McDowell has shown himself to be an independent voice who has not promised his vote to the Republican majority. He earned plaudits from the anti-consolidation crowd for his decision not to vote on the Bell South/AT&T merger.
According to a Free Press account, McDowell said the media ownership debate concerns "the vitality of American Democracy." He added that he was "eager to hear from the public on the impact of media policy decisions.”
The commissioners heard testimony from more than 100 people.
The informal forum followed an official FCC public meeting in Harrisburg, Pa., where well over a hundred people voiced their opinions causing the meeting y to exceed the official scheduled time