Some House Members Push Ownership Transparency

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The majority of members of the Future of American Media Caucus (FAM), and other House members, have joined FCC Democrats in calling on the Republican majority to put specific media-ownership rule changes out for public comment before voting on them.

Maurice Hinchey, joined by 82 other Democrats and a lone Republican--see below--wrote FCC Chairman Kevin Martin Tuesday to call for "transparency and public comment," on new media ownership rules.

In June, the FCC launched an omnibus proceeding reviewing all its rules, per a congressionally mandated quadrennial review, and its media ownership rules under a remand order from a federal appeals court.

Martin promised ample opportunity for input through an extended comment period and a series of public meetings on numerous issues, but did not promise to offer up specific rule changes that resulted from that process to another round of comment.

But led by Maurice Hinchey (D-N.Y.), founder and chairman of all-Democrat FAM, says that is not enough. In the letter, the legislators said that the FCC should "fully disclose all proposed rule changes and give the American people a fair chance to review and weigh in on any such proposal.  Such activity should include, at the very least, another extended comment period."

They also want the commission to repeat its round of public hearings on the specific changes.

The lone Republican who has bucked his party on the issue is Connecticut Republican Rep. Rob Simmons. It isn't much of a surprise. Connecticut legislators are often hard to pigeonhole--Christopher Shays, Joe Lieberman.

Simmons, for one, has been pushing his moderate image hard, says a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee. He is a Republican holding a narrowly-won seat in the most Democratic district in the country, a seat he is in danger of losing in November.

"Rob Simmons is supportive of the need to preserve competition, localism, and diversity in our media markets," says John Goodwin, press secretary.

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