Dissent as US Government Opens Media Review

27 June 2006

The Federal Communications Commission's announcement of yet another review of media ownership regulations has inevitably triggered partisan sniping.

The US watchdog, led by Republican chairman Kevin Martin, revealed last week its plans for a consultation period leading to a vote on possible relaxation of rules [WAMN: 23-Jun-06].

However, Democrat members of the FCC have already fired an opening salvo on proceedings. Thunders commissioner Jonathan Adelstein: "The manner in which the commission is launching this critical proceeding is totally inadequate."

Democrats want the FCC to promise substantive studies and public hearings, and to reveal proposed new rules for public comment before voting on them.

They also warn against splitting off parts of the rules for separate votes — which may be the case for the newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership ban.

The last FCC review of these thorny issues culminated in a legal battle two years ago when a US federal court threw out the commission's proposed rule changes.

Martin says the latest proceedings are designed to be "neutral and evenhanded". The consultation will be carried out over the next four months, although no date has been set for a vote.

Data sourced from Adweek (USA); additional content by WARC staff