Powell eyes June 2 vote on media ownership

Author:
Publish date:

Federal Communications Commission chairman Michael Powell said Thursday
that he plans to submit proposed media-ownership-rule changes to fellow
commissioners during the first week of June in hopes of bringing them to a vote
at the agency's June 2 open meeting.

'Congress gave us a time frame we cannot ignore,' he told the Media
Institute, an industry think tank.

The move may put him at odds with Democratic commissioners Michael Copps and
Jonathan Adelstein, who have been urging the FCC to move slower.

Powell said he doesn't intend to seek public comment on the specific
recommendations unless some component desperately needs to have public comment.
'If there is no clear benefit to doing so, we won't,' he said. 'To be perfectly
candid, I think there are those who want to delay the proceeding because they
are not supportive of change.'

During this past week, three senators called for public review of proposed
changes before they are put in place.

Powell also bolstered expectations that he will push for the current ban on
cross-ownership of newspapers and local broadcast stations to be eliminated or
significantly reduced. 'It's hard to see how a complete ban on newspaper owning
local TV stations serves the public interest,' he added.

As for deregulation of media-ownership limits generally, Powell said larger
media companies will be better able to purchase resources necessary to cover the
war in Iraq and other global news events.

'Size and efficiency are becoming more crucial to providing quality news and
public affairs,' he said. 'A complex world requires ever more sophisticated
newsgathering capability.'

Still, Powell reiterated his pledge not to eviscerate ownership regulation
and defended his effort to justify each limitation as a sensible approach that
will survive a court threat to eliminate restrictions that can't be
supported.

'If we fail, the rules will be gone in a year,' he
added.

Related