The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, which
represents groups that have been critical
of the FCC's media ownership proposal, has told the FCC that its proposed
30-day extension of the comment period on its associated 323 state of ownership
survey is not sufficient.
They also don't want the FCC to vote the ownership item in
early January after the comment period closes.
In a letter to the FCC commissioners, the group said that
its more than 200 member organizations had concluded that extra period -- until
Jan. 4 on a report released Nov. 14 -- permit a full opportunity to understand,
analyze and offer comment on the ownership data, especially since the data was
only released two weeks ago.
They add that the brief window could leave the FCC wide open
for a court challenge because it is "self-evidently insufficient."
Free Press has already threatened to sue the FCC over the proposal -- to loosen
cross-ownership rules -- whenever the FCC approves it.
"The expansion of minority and female ownership in
media is too essential for the civil rights community to accept empty promises
of future action to improve diversity of ownership," they wrote. "The
burden of proof lies with the Commission to demonstrate that its media
ownership rules promote ownership by women and people of color, and thus, we
expect the Commission to give full consideration to the comments received in
the new comment cycle. Further, we anticipate additional meetings and dialogue
after the comment period is concluded. Accordingly, we seek your assurances
that you will not rush to conclude the 2010 Quadrennial docket in early January
without time for dialogue."
An FCC spokesman was unavailable for comment on the letter,
but the chairman's office maintains the FCC has taken diversity into account in
the proposal and given plenty of opportunity for comment on proposals it first
offered a year ago.