WASHINGTON DC: Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama (pictured) is urging the Federal Communications Commission to apply the brakes to its chairman's proposed relaxation of US media ownership restrictions.

White House appointee Kevin Martin wants the debate done and dusted by the year end, including thirty days of public consultation.

Obama, however, strongly believes the FCC's time frame is too aggressive and its proposals detrimental to the nation's African American and Latin minorities. In a letter to Martin he writes ...

"The [FCC] has failed to further the goals of diversity in the media and promote localism, and as a result, it is in no position to justify allowing for increased consolidation of the market.

"Moreover, thirty days of public review of a specific proposed change is insufficient to assess the effect that change would have on the media marketplace or the rationale on which any such proposal is based."

The present debate has been raging since 2003 when the FCC (supported, incidentally, at the time by commissioner Obama) turned the long-established media ownership rules on their heads to allow companies to buy more TV stations and own a newspaper and a broadcaster in the same city.

Media owners enthusiastically welcomed the proposed changes, while critics argued that an easing of restrictions would ultimately leave viewers, listeners and readers with fewer choices.

A series of legal challenges resulted in a reversal of the FCC's decisions and the issue has been in review ever since.

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