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Congress Spanks Radio(2)

Congress Spanks Radio

You’d think from all the rhetoric at today’s Senate Commerce Committee hearing that these were somehow not the same lawmakers who helped pass the Telecommunications Act of 1996. John McCain, R-Ariz., of course, did not, but several other members of the committee were there in ’95 and okayed the current radio ownership limits.
Democrat Ron Wyden of Oregon called the local limits an “experiment” several times while Rep. Howard Berman, D-Calif. and Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis. testified that the current concentration of radio owners is unacceptable. Berman said it merits DOJ scrutiny.
McCain interrupted Clear Channel Chairman/CEO Lowry Mays several times when he tried to answer questions. When asked if Clear Channel plans to acquire more stations Mays replied, “Not at this time.” Unless the company believes that such a deal would somehow benefit a local community, he said.
Robert Short, president of WRDS(FM), Syracuse, testified he was forced to sell the station because he could not compete with Clear Channel in his market. He told Mays his statement was “audacious”.
McCain has no specific bill in mind to change ownership limits. He is holding a series of hearings on concentration in various media and said since the FCC is now looking at possible changes to such rules, this would be a time to open up debate.
McCain said he would re-introduce his bill to replace the defunct minority tax certificate program.