FCC's Copps to add media ownership hearings

FCC Commissioner Michael Copps announced last week that he would hold two additional public hearings on Powell's campaign to change media ownership rules in favor of corporations.

Calling the media ownership debate "the most important decision we will make this year," Copps noted, "Most Americans are not even aware that this is teed up for debate."

In a speech at Fordham University in New York City, Copps announced two field hearings on media concentration - one in Seattle, Wa., in early March at the University of Washington; and a second in Durham, N. C. later in March at Duke University. The FCC already has scheduled a public hearing on the media rule changes on Feb. 27 in Richmond, Va.

Copps also said he has learned that some media professionals are fearful of speaking out against the ownership changes due to fear of retribution by media companies. He called for the FCC to establish a special procedure to combat such retribution.

"It has been a revelation to me that there are media professionals with strong feelings about the downsides of consolidation for the American people who are afraid to speak for fear of retribution. I hear privately that speaking out on this issue would cost many people their careers," Copps said. "If this is true then we need to find a way for them to be heard without fear of retribution.

"I am working with my fellow Commissioners to establish an anonymous testimony procedure for any producer, writer, musician, actor, broadcaster or other media professional who feels threatened," Copps continued. "I recognize that this presents challenges for a public proceeding, but so, too, does a climate of fear that chokes off needed input for important decisions."

For more information visit www.fcc.gov.

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