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06.13.2003
Originally featured on BroadcastEngineering.com
FCC’s Powell contends “silent mmajority” is OK with ownership rules

Borrowing one of the most famous slogans of the Nixon administration in the 1970s, FCC Chairman Michael Powell said last week a “silent majority” of the nation backs his initiative to change media ownership rules.

Powell dismissed as “garbage” charges that most Americans were uninformed about the issues surround the ownership vote. In an interview at the National Cable & Telecommunications Association annual meeting in Chicago, Ill., Powell, who led the Republican majority approving the changes, said he thinks most Americans are unconcerned by the FCC's moves.

“I don't accept the premise that the public wasn't informed. How is it that you have half a million comments but somehow the public wasn't informed? I have e-mails; I have letters; I have telephone calls. We have a 60-person call center that logged calls all day. We had more public response on this issue than any other issue I’ve seen in my tenure as a commissioner and chairman since 2001."

Critics of the vote — both Republicans and Democrats — have charged that Powell rammed the rules change through without adequate debate. Republicans, who control the commission, passed the rules by a single vote margin.

Leading Democrats and critics of media consolidation have said the changes undermine diversity and local perspective in media.

“If members of the public aren’t as excited as you or don’t care as much as you, it doesn't mean they aren’t informed,” Powell said. “There was a really dramatic misunderstanding of the substance of what was at issue.”

For more information visit www.fcc.gov.

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