FCC Chair Refuses to Delay Vote on Media Ownership Rules

As criticism builds against attempts to further allow large corporations to control the media, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Michael Powell ignored pleas from the FCC’s two Democratic commissioners to delay vote on proposed regulations that would loosen media ownership rules. Commissioners Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein asked Powell to delay the vote, currently scheduled for June 2, for one month – in order to officially make the rules public and allow for thorough public comments, according to the New York Times.

Meanwhile, bipartisan lawmakers introduced bills in the US Senate and the House of Representatives to prevent the changes proposed by Powell. Powell’s proposal includes a change that would allow a single company to own TV stations that reach 45 percent of households in the US; the federal legislation would keep the media ownership cap at the current 35 percent level and would no longer require the FCC to review the cap every two years.

Powell’s proposed rule changes also would rewrite two existing “cross-ownership” rules that would lift current restrictions that keep companies from owning a newspaper and a radio or TV station in the same market or radio and TV stations in the same market. “I am very troubled about the idea of a local newspaper and local television station are going to speak with one voice,” said Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), according to Reuters.

Copps and Adelstein also have asked Powell, son of US Secretary of State Colin Powell, to conduct public hearings around the nation on the issue – he refused. Despite Powell’s refusal, the two commissioners have conducted unofficial hearings during the past few months to alert the public to the proposed changes.

TAKE ACTION Protect Media Diversity and Press Freedom


Reuters 5/13/03; New York Times 5/14/03; Baltimore Sun 5/18/03; Associated Press 5/14/03, 5/16/03

Support eh ERA banner