US Watchdog Stands his Ground on Media Ownership

07 December 2007

WASHINGTON DC: US media regulator Kevin Martin has defended his plan to overturn 32-year-old cross media-ownership rules in the face of criticism about the Federal Communication Commission's practices and accusations he is pushing through reforms too quickly.

Martin (pictured) and his four fellow commissioners appeared before a congressional sub-committee this week to discuss the plan that will give media companies in the top 20 markets the opportunity to own both newspapers and a broadcast station.

The changes, which Martin expects to vote on and pass at the FCC's December 18 meeting, have met with opposition, mainly from Democrats seeking a delay for further discussion among lawmakers and the public.

Under questioning, Martin said the plan was "modest". It would give flexibility to the newspaper and broadcast industry to compete in the modern media market.

Media activists complain that his cross-ownership rules are full of loopholes that would allow far more consolidation in smaller markets and thus narrow consumer choice.

Martin also had to defend his management of the FCC, amid accusations that he has "cherry picked" data.

The agency has said it will begin publishing a list of items under consideration for a vote on its website in an effort "intended to make the FCC's rulemaking process as fair and transparent as possible".

Data sourced from; additional content by WARC staff