Senators Pressure FCC for Open Review of Media Ownership Rules

14 April 2003

The Republican-controlled Federal Communications Commission, chaired by Michael K Powell (son of the US secretary of state), was urged Thursday by a majority of the Senate Commerce Committee to open its forthcoming media ownership recommendations to public review before these are enshrined in law.

The FCC’s five commissioners, who have been taking evidence on the controversial issue of lifting limitations on US media ownership, are poised to enter into private session this week and will reveal their decisions on June 2 – effectively declaring ‘game, set and match’.

Concerned at the pressure on the FCC from the Republican-dominated House of Representatives to cut the cackle and deliver the beef (with the prime cut likely to be served to Big Media), a cross-party majority of the Senate committee wrote Thursday to the FCC urging that its decisions are not implemented until they have been opened to public scrutiny and debate.

Senate commerce committee chairman, Senator John McCain (Republican, Arizona), although not a signatory to the majority letter, is understood to have written separately to Michael Powell neither favoring nor opposing a fast decision. He did, however, urge that it is reached “in a manner that is thoughtful … and mindful of the best interests of the American public”.

Although it is not FCC policy to comment publicly on congressional letters, a spokesperson responded: “We take them seriously and we’ll provide a response.”

Or as they say in showbiz: “Don’t call us; we’ll call you!”

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