FCC must hear public’s concern before voting on media consolidation rules

Common Cause is calling on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to hear the public’s concerns and opinions before voting on any proposals to relax media ownership limits.

With the appointment of Robert McDowell as the fifth and final FCC Commissioner, it is widely expected that the agency will announce new media consolidation rules at its June 21 meeting.

In an open letter to FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, Common Cause noted that the FCC in 2003 voted to relax media consolidation limits without giving the public time to review the rules or seeking the public’s views on the impact those rules would have on communities. “When the Court of Appeals in Philadelphia rejected the 2003 rules, the court’s decision made clear that not only were the rules flawed, so was the process that produced them,” Common Cause President Chellie Pingree wrote. “We urge you not to repeat the mistakes of the past.”

Chairman Martin has indicated that he would like to eliminate the 30-year-old ban prohibiting a company from owning both a television station and a newspaper in the same market, and may also relax rules governing the number of local television and radio stations that can be controlled by a single owner.

“The FCC must actively seek and listen to public opinion on this issue,” Pingree said. The group is urging the Commission to disclose any and all proposed rule changes in a comprehensive package before the June 21 meeting, and to schedule a series of hearings in geographically diverse locations to listen to public opinion.

Click here to read the full text of the letter: http://www.commoncause.org/site/apps/nl/content2.asp?c=dkLNK1MQIwG&b=686043&ct=2565115