Genachowski Backs Delay in Ownership Vote

Sees MMTC study as way to resolve issues with proceeding
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FCC chairman Julius Genachowski says he
supports putting the media ownership rule on hold briefly to complete an impact
study suggested by the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council.

None of the commissioners have yet to vote the
item, which MMTC requested the delay in a letter to the commission.
The National Association of Broadcasters is also OK with the delay.

"The
study is expected to take several weeks and will be filed with the Commission,
after which MMTC suggests that the agency solicit public input, to be followed
by a Commission vote. In this heavily-litigated area where a strong record is
particularly important, I believe this is a sensible approach to moving forward
and resolving the issues raised in this proceeding," said Genachowski in a
statement.

A senior official called the approach "a strategy to move towards a successful vote and strengthen the Commission's position in court."

"The
study announced yesterday addresses an issue of importance, will augment the
record, and will assist the Commission in resolving the issues before it on the
full record," Genachowski said.

In
his statement, Genachowski conceded that the growth of the Internet and its
impact on the economics of newspapers and broadcasting factored into his
decision to implement "modest reforms" of the cross-ownership rules.

FCC commissioner Robert McDowell was not so high on the delay, but said he
supported a prudent process so long as it was the last delay in a years-long
process.

"Although
I firmly believe that the record regarding the Commission's newspaper/broadcast
and radio/television cross-ownership policies more than sufficiently justifies
the immediate elimination of these outdated rules," he said in a
statement, "I respect adhering to a prudent process that allows for the
submission of the proposed Minority Media and Telecommunications Council study,
along with expedient but adequate public comment. The Commission's review
should be swift and sound. Not only did Congress intend for us to eliminate
obsolete rules once more competition becomes evident, but it also meant for us
to act with alacrity in our review. Accordingly, it is my hope that
this most recent pause in our progress on this front is our last. I look
forward to a substantive vote to modernize our rules by this summer."

"The study proposed by the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council would provide additional information to support a data-based decision that is responsive to the Third Circuit, which directed the Commission to consider the effect of its rules on minority and female ownership," said Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel. "The issues raised in the media ownership proceeding, including the promotion of journalism and viewpoint diversity, are essential to democratic discourse. The Commission benefits from acting carefully and considering all relevant materials. I look forward to reviewing the results of the study."

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