Michael Copps, leader of the Democrat minority on the Federal Communications Commission and still smarting from three and half years of being outvoted by that body's Republican majority, on Wednesday sniffed the sweet if unfamiliar odor of success.

Speaking to the Washington press corps, commissioner Copps called on FCC chairman Michael Powell to instigate as soon as possible new public hearings on the rules governing media ownership.

The hearings would be followed by a drafting and public consultation period that could produce new rules by the middle of 2005, Copps believes. By which time there could be a new occupant of the Oval Office -- and a reversal of the Republican majority among the five commissioners.

Copps could scarce contain his glee at the appeal court's toppling of the FCC's Big-Media-friendly ownership rules [WAMN: 25-Jun-04]. "If the reality says maybe there's been too much media consolidation, we might even want to tighten" regulations, he told reporters.

Seemingly rubbing Republican noses in the jurisdictive doo-doo, Copps said the July 24 ruling indicated that "this commission went way too far … it should be clear to my colleagues, and I hope it is, we need to reverse course".

He also refuted a suggestion by chairman Powell that media ownership decisions be decided on a piecemeal basis. Such an approach, said Copps, "confuses the issue", adding that Powell had not discussed with him which approach the FCC should take.

Meantime, the 'freeze' order issued by the appeal court remains in effect until the FCC wins approval of its rewritten rules.

Data sourced from: AdWeek.com; additional content by WARC staff