Last updated: February 21, 2008 - 11:09am
SENATE HEARING RECAP
FCC Stands Firm on Date of Media Vote
Inouye Vows to Overhaul FCC
FCC Wants to Mandate Local Programming
Martin Pushes for More NJ News on WWOR-TV
Links to Statements/Testimony
FCC STANDS FIRM ON DATE OF MEDIA VOTE
[SOURCE: Associated Press, AUTHOR: John Dunbar]
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin Martin held firm despite bipartisan pressure from members of the Senate Commerce Committee who would like to see him delay Tuesday's vote on new media ownership rules. During Thursday's oversight hearing, Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) at one point asked the chairman "will you agree today" to postpone the vote. Martin responded, "No." Last week, the committee approved a bill that would delay the vote by at least six months, and require the commission to do more study on the impact of media ownership consolidation on women and minority ownership issues as well as local communities. As part of his justification for approving the rule, Martin noted the poor financial condition of the newspaper industry, a point that drew criticism from the senators. "The FCC is worried about the financial condition of newspapers?" asked Sen Trent Lott (R-Miss). "What?" While the agency does not regulate newspapers, it does have the power to determine whether a broadcast station may own one. Chairman Martin defended his decision to move ahead, noting that along with Tuesday's vote, he would be proposing a series of initiatives designed to promote media ownership among women and minorities. He also defended the process, saying the commission has conducted public meetings all over the country in the roll-up to the vote. The chairman also addressed the contentious nature of the media ownership issue. "I'm not yet convinced that we will ever reach a consensus on media ownership," he said. "I think it's too politically divisive."
* Martin Won’t Back Down on Dec. 18 Cross-Ownership Vote
[SOURCE: Broadcasting&Cable, AUTHOR: John Eggerton]
Sen Byron Dorgan (ND) was called away from Thursday's Senate Commerce Committee hearing to a meeting on an appropriations bill, leaving Sen John Kerry as the toughest questioner. But before he left, Sen Dorgan said that it would be a "serious mistake" for FCC Chairman Martin to move forward on a media ownership vote on Tuesday. Chairman Martin said he was proposing was a conservative change to a rule that Democrat and Republican chairmen before him agreed needed changing, that a court agreed needed changing, and that the public had had a chance to weigh in on over 18 months, in eight public hearings, and in thousands of pages of comment. Kerry asked why Martin was basing his defense of the change on the financial distress of newspapers, a point Kerry did not concede, when the FCC was not charged with regulating newspapers. Martin said it was charged with considering the impact of its decision on newspapers, and the impact the 1975 ban on crossownership might have had on the health of local news.
* Martin Shakes Off Senate Critics, Promises FCC Cross-Ownership Vote
* FCC Chief Pushes Ownership Vote
* No Delay on F.C.C. Vote (Bloomberg)
* FCC Chief Rejects Call to Delay Vote
* Defiant FCC chief refuses to delay vote
* FCC Chairman’s Media Ownership Proposal Riddled with Process Problems, Flawed Data, and Loopholes
"Fundamental flaws in the Commission's data gathering, administrative procedures, and ambiguities make it impossible for us to see how this proposal could promote diversity, competition, and meaningful local and minority programming opportunities in the public interest," said Gene Kimmelman, Vice President of Federal and International Affairs for Consumers Union.
INOUYE VOWS TO OVERHAUL FCC
[SOURCE: Broadcasting&Cable, AUTHOR: John Eggerton]
Sen Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) suggested that the Senate Commerce Committee 1) hold up the nominations of Federal Communications Commission members Jonathan Adelstein and Deborah Tate, 2) take time in 2008 on a reauthorization bill that would examine Commissioners' terms and processes and ways to make it a better advocate for consumers. Sen Rockefeller said that rather than serving the public, the FCC was instead undertaking a one-way deregulatory policy that shortchanged consumers. He added that he feared that the FCC was more concerned with policies that serve the needs of the companies that they regulate than it was with protecting the public interest. Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) agreed.
* Renominations of Adelstein, Tate Discussed at Hearing
FCC WANTS TO MANDATE LOCAL PROGRAMMING
[SOURCE: tvnewsday, AUTHOR: Harry Jessell]
The Federal Communications Commission is considering rules that would require broadcasters to air “a significant amount of locally oriented programming” and establish permanent local boards to advise them on what kinds of programming to air. The commission is expected to issue the proposed rules and ask for comment on them at its open meeting Tuesday. The rulemaking dovetails with the new “enhanced disclosure” rules the FCC adopted last month. They require TV stations to report quarterly the types of local programming they air on standardized forms.
MARTIN PUSHES FOR MORE NJ NEWS ON WWOR-TV
[SOURCE: Broadcasting&Cable, AUTHOR: John Eggerton]
Answering questions from Sen Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin Martin said it appears that WWOR-TV did not meet requirements to deliver local news serving its New Jersey market of license, and the Commission will have to decide how to address that, probably with commitments to quantifiable increases in that news.
_Links to Statements/Testimony_
* Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Inouye: "As public servants, both here in Congress and on the Commission, we are challenged to ensure that our communications markets evolve in a manner that serves the public interest. We must foster an environment where consumers have choices, where businesses have opportunities, and where the rules of the regulatory road are clear. A transparent regulatory process is essential. When agencies short-circuit the decision making process, public trust in their authority erodes. With the Commission poised to make historic decisions on media ownership, universal service, broadband, and the digital television transition, public confidence in the process is not a luxury, it’s a necessity."
* Ranking Member Ted Stevens (R-Alaska): "Deployment of broadband is also an important priority. The commission has indicated that steps to provide a more accurate picture of the marketplace will be taken, and it is my hope that these actions will be taken soon. Universal service is the most important element for the communications infrastructure our country needs in rural areas. I was glad to see that the joint board has outlined proposals for comprehensive reform. While Alaska is unique, it is not alone in needing universal service programs to deliver the benefits of broadband, telemedicine and distance learning. Universal service has a central role in the continued development of this country’s resources in rural America and any reform efforts should reflect this important role."
* FCC Chairman Martin: "The court specifically upheld the Commission’s determination that the absolute ban on newspaper/broadcast cross-ownership was no longer necessary. The court agreed that “…reasoned analysis supports the Commission’s determination that the blanket ban on newspaper/broadcast crossownership was no longer in the public interest.” It has been over four years since the Third Circuit stayed the Commission’s previous rules and over three years since the Third Circuit instructed the Commission to respond to the court with amended rules. It is against this backdrop that the FCC undertook a lengthy, spirited, and careful reconsideration of our media ownership rules."
* Commissioner Copps: "The Commission's priorities are dangerously out-of-whack, and we urgently need this Committee's help to save us from ourselves. We have a proposal before us at the Commission to open the door to newspaper-broadcast combinations in every market in the country and the drive is on to rush this to a vote next week. Meanwhile we have given short shrift to pressing problems like the sad state of minority ownership of U.S. media properties and the obvious decline of localism in our broadcast programming. We have also neglected the DTV transition, and have not done nearly enough to prepare consumers and broadcast stations for the rapidly approaching deadline. If we don't turn this around quickly, the DTV transition will result in widespread television outages and a consumer backlash the likes of which you and I haven't seen for a long, long time."
* Commissioner Adelstein: "The Commission’s current course, if unchecked, could cause lasting harm to American media for future generations. Without major changes, the pending proposal before us will decidedly hurt competition, diversity and localism. Independent voices will be silenced; women and people of color, who already own tragically few media outlets, will find them even further out of reach; and the public will not receive any quantifiable measure of more local news, information or decent family programming."
* Commissioner Tate: "Following a remand by the D.C. Circuit in 2004, media ownership has been a front-burner issue for the Commission. Throughout this review, the focus of our attention has been on the touchstones of competition, localism, and diversity of voices. Over the past 18 months, we have held open public hearings across the entire country ... These lengthy hearings have enabled thousands of American citizens to have unprecedented access to a governmental body while providing them the opportunity to voice their opinion regarding ownership of media outlets. Over my 20-plus years of public service - at all levels of government - I cannot remember a single time that an agency expended this much institutional energy and investment on an issue, or was this open and thorough regarding a matter of public interest."
* Commissioner McDowell: "The record demonstrates that not only are there more hoses to deliver the information, there are more spigots to produce the information. On the other hand, most people still rely primarily on television broadcasts and newspapers for their local news and information. With local broadcasters and newspapers still producing a large share of local online content as well, are there really more diverse sources of local journalism than before? All of us must handle this question with great care. Another vexing question is: what can the FCC do to promote ownership among people of color and women? Many positive and constructive ideas before the Commission may be constrained by Supreme Court prohibitions against race-specific help on one side, and a lack of statutory authority for doing much more on the other side. Whatever the FCC or Congress does must withstand constitutional muster. So let’s focus on the possible -- and the legally sustainable. I am hopeful that many of the ideas before us for a vote on December 18 can be adopted so America can start back on the path of increased ownership of traditional media properties by women and people of color."
- Agenda for WWOR-TV License Renewal Forum in New Jersey
- FCC Publishes Denial of News Corp. Waiver Challenge
- FCC Schedules Public Forum on WWOR License Renewal
- FCC investigating Fox over its operation of WWOR-TV
- Groups Push FCC To Schedule Hearing On Fox Stations Challenge
- New Jersey Citizens Fight to Be Heard/Fox Makes Case For WWOR
- FCC may finally act on WWOR-TV license renewal
- WWOR License Challengers Take Renewed Aim
- Fox Station Challenged on Renewal of License
- Sen Lautenberg Calls for More Consideration of Ownership Rules
- MAP Asks Court To Overturn News Corp. Waivers
- Senate Media Ownership Hearing Re-cap
- FCC Public Forum on WWOR-TV License Renewal in New Jersey
- FCC Grants Transfer of Control of Fox Television Stations to Fox Entertainment Group
- Jackson Takes Aim At Murdoch Stations