House Members Call for Full Public Comment on Media Ownership Rule

House members this week asked the FCC to provide more opportunities for the public to comment on the commission's proposed changes to media ownership rules.

The FCC recently decided to reconsider broadcast ownership rules. In a letter to FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, Rep. Hinchey (D-NY) and 83 other members of the House accused the commission of not soliciting enough public comment when it voted on media ownership rule changes in 2003. The commission dropped its consideration of rule changes in 2004 after the Third District Court of Appeals rejected the rules and remanded the issue back to the commission.

The House members said, in addition to upgrading its Web site, they want the FCC to expand its series of town hall meetings in major media markets to include small rural towns, to collect data and conduct a thorough analysis on the state of media ownership. They also want to ensure that the commission fully disclose all proposed rule changes.

Hinchey, founder of a 20-member bipartisan Future of the American Media Caucus, said at the very least, the FCC should extend the comment period with second visits to all the markets hosting the current town hall meetings. Public comments are due Sept. 22.