While there has been talk for several weeks about the possibility of the Oct. 31 hearing date, the FCC only made it official Wednesday as part of a so-called sunshine notice in which it is supposed to issue a public agenda at least one week before the public meetings.
In a release Thursday, media-consolidation opponent Free Press -- which has been calling for more public input on the FCC's revision of media-ownership rules -- called it a "slap in the face to the vast majority of Americans who oppose consolidation." The e-mailed statement linked to criticisms of the hearing's short notice by FCC Democratic commissioners Jonathan Adelstein and Michael Copps.
The FCC's announcement of the hearing came the same day Sens. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) and Trent Lott (R-Miss.) vowed to slow down a timetable that would lead to a mid-December vote on the rule changes, but Lott said it was not an issue that he was getting a lot of constituent calls about.