FCC members break with Powell to hold public hearing on media ownership in Pacific Northwest

Democratic FCC Commissioners Michael J. Copps and Jonathan S. Adelstein broke with Republican Chairman Michael Powell and held a field hearing on media ownership rules last week in Seattle, Washington. The hearing was held last Friday at the University of Washington Hub Auditorium.

The hearing was organized into three panels: one on the impact of media consolidation on news; a second on the impact of media consolidation on music and entertainment; and the third on the impact of media consolidation on localism.

Panelists, from the Pacific Northwest region, included members of the recording industry, journalists, television and radio broadcasters, labor representatives and others.

Powell, a proponent of loosening corporate ownership rules, has argued that additional hearings are unnecessary since email allows the FCC to gather sufficient public comment. The two Democratic commissioners disagreed.

"This is the biggest decision the FCC will make this year, and it will affect your television, radio, newspapers, cable TV and Internet news and entertainment for years to come and this is the Pacific Northwest's only opportunity to speak directly to the decision makers," Copps said.

At stake, added Adelstein, are the rules that ensure the multiplicity of voices and viewpoints that under gird our marketplace of ideas and sustain our democracy.

At issue is the FCC's review of rules that seek to protect localism, competition, and diversity in the media.

These rules, among other things, currently limit a single corporation from dominating local TV markets; from merging a community's TV stations, radio stations, and newspaper; from merging two of the major TV networks; and from controlling more than 35 percent of all TV households in the nation.

For more information visit www.fcc.gov.

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