Washington - Oct 22, 2007 - FCC chairman Kevin Martin is promoting a plan that would dramatically relax the media ownership rules by year end. Martin wants the FCC to repeal a rule that forbids a company to own both a newspaper and a television or radio station in the same city. He also wants to ease restrictions on the number of radio and TV stations a company could own in the same city.
As soon as word of Martin's plan became public, congress made plans to try to delay the move with legislation requiring additional public comment. Martin apparently has at least 3-2 majority support on the commission for the rule changes. His plan, if successful, would be a major victory for some executives of media conglomerates, the New York Times reported.
In recent months, media industry executives had all but abandoned the hope that the FCC would try to modify the ownership rules in the waning days of the Bush administration, the Times said. The revelation of Martin's plan unleashed a wave of opposition.
As the week ended, there were reports that Sen. Byron L. Dorgan, D-ND, and Sen. Trent Lott, R-MS, were working on legislation that would thwart Martin's proposal by requiring additional public comment and multiple proposals.
FCC commissioner Michael Copps, a leading FCC opponent of easing the media ownership restrictions, told the Times that Martin's aggressive timetable would require procedural shortcuts, giving the public too little time to comment on the proposals and industry experts too little time to weigh their impact on news operations.