The Federal Communications Commission’s chairman Michael Powell yesterday announced the FCC had approved thirty-two proposed radio station acquisitions.

The decision has removed 75% of the backlog of cases pending at the FCC – some of them under consideration for over two years.

The move could mark a FCC strategy shift as the new Bush appointee gets into his master’s free market stride. Under Clinton, the watchdog was careful to review transfers of stations in case one owner gained too much control over the market.

However, Powell seems more relaxed about competition implications, having promised to roll back regulations when he took office in January. “While I am sensitive to the issues raised by the concentration levels in some of these cases, I do not believe the public interest is served by inaction,” he explained, referring to the lengthy review process in some of the cases. “Further delay is neither warranted nor just.”

This attitude does not seem to be shared by some of the Democrat members of the FCC. One such commissioner, Gloria Tristani, complained: “Today’s approvals apparently initiate a new era where the commission will routinely approve transactions resulting in [exceedingly high] single owner revenue concentration levels.”

News source: Financial Times