FCC schedules Seattle hearing on media-ownership rules
The Federal Communications Commission today announced it will hold a hearing in Seattle next Friday on proposals to ease long-standing limits...
Seattle Times staff reporter
The Federal Communications Commission today announced it will hold a hearing in Seattle next Friday on proposals to ease long-standing limits on how many local media outlets a single company can own.
The one-week notice drew immediate fire from opponents of the proposals.
"Clearly, the rush is on to push media consolidation to a quick and ill-considered vote," FCC commissioners Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein, the two Democrats on the five-member commission, said in a prepared statement. "It shows there is a pre-ordained outcome."
Reclaim the Media, a Seattle advocacy group that opposes more media consolidation, agreed. "The rushed hearing is part of [FCC Chairman Kevin] Martin's plan to fast-track changes to the rules by mid-December," it said on its Web site.
The hearing will run from 4 to 11 p.m. at Town Hall, 1119 Eighth Ave., Seattle. More information is available at www.fcc.gov.
Martin, a Republican, has been pushing to wrap up the commission's long-running study of the proposed changes by the end of the year. While he has not proposed changes, he is expected to support allowing more media consolidation.
In its announcement, the FCC said the Seattle hearing will be the last on the topic.
A 1975 FCC rule prohibits "cross-ownership" of a daily newspaper and a television station in the same city, unless the commission grants a waiver. In 2003 the FCC, by a 3-2 vote, repealed that regulation and loosened others limiting the number of TV and radio stations a company can own in the same market.
Most major media companies supported the moves.
The changes provoked a major backlash. In 2004 a federal appeals-court panel put the alterations on hold, ruling the FCC hadn't justified them adequately. But the commission announced last year that it would take up the question again.
Seattle has been a hotbed of opposition to loosening the rules. Copps and Adelstein held two unofficial hearings here, in 2003 and 2006; each drew hundreds who almost unanimously opposed the changes.
While Seattle Times Publisher Frank Blethen has been an outspoken opponent, the large multi-media corporations that own most of Seattle's other major news outlets all have supported repealing the newspaper-TV cross-ownership ban.
They includes The Hearst Corp. (Seattle Post-Intelligencer); Belo Corp. (KING and KONG TV); Cox Enterprises (KIRO-TV); and Tribune (KCPQ-TV).
Eric Pryne: 206-464-2231 or email@example.com
Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company
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