McCain bill to ease FCC's ownership burden

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A number of media regulations would be revised under a Federal Communications
Commission reauthorization bill unveiled by Senate Commerce Committee chairman
John McCain (R-Ariz.) Friday.

As promised, McCain proposed to extend the time between the agency's
mandatory review of media-ownership rules from two to five years.

The bill -- to be voted by the committee June 19 in conjunction with separate
legislation to rewrite FCC ownership rules -- would also clarify that the
commission has the authority to tighten ownership rules, as well as to relax
them.

Co-sponsored by ranking Democrat Ernest Hollings (S.C.), the bill would
authorize FCC operations through 2007.

Other provisions would:

\u0007 Allow FCC seizure of broadcast equipment used for "malicious
interference" to public-safety and other radio communications.

\u0007 Preclude winning spectrum bidders from using bankruptcy to avoid payment
obligations.

\u0007 Ban private sponsors of conventions and other meetings from covering travel
costs of attending FCC commissioners or staff.

\u0007 Impose a one-year lobbying ban on high-level FCC staffers who leave agency
employment.

\u0007 Grant FCC authority to require video descriptions of television programming
to assist the visually impaired.

\u0007 Allow the commission to fine direct-broadcast satellite operators for legal
violations in the same manner as broadcasters and cable
operators.

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