Members of Congress are taking the FCC to task over perceived disorganization within the agency.
Some lawmakers also are criticizing what they believe is a rush to pass the chairman’s proposed relaxation of the cross-ownership ban.
Under the proposal, the ban that prohibits a company from owning both a newspaper and a TV or radio station in the same market would be relaxed in the top 20 TV DMAs under certain circumstances. FCC Chairman Martin would like to have the item on the agenda for the Dec. 18 monthly meeting.
At a hearing of the Telcom and Internet Subcommittee on FCC oversight that took up much of Wednesday, Commerce Committee Chairman Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., said he called the session because of reports of FCC meetings that are delayed all day and public sniping among commissioners.
“The FCC appears to be broken,” said Dingell. “The real loser is the public interest and the consumer. When this happens the public confidence in the agency is shaken. We can’t allow this to continue.”
Dingell sternly warned the assembled commissioners that while the chairman ultimately is responsible for the FCC, it requires all of the commissioners, “including the Democrats,” to work together.
He called for a fair and open commission process.
Martin said the agency is run the same as it was when he worked on the staff of Commissioner Harold Furchtgott-Roth and as a commissioner under Chairman Michael Powell.
In an effort to provide more transparency to its decisions, the commission has begun listing the items circulating among the eight floor commissioners for a vote.