Lawmakers Say Localism Must Come Before Ownership

Lawmakers Say Localism Must Come Before Ownership
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Rep. Maurice Hinchey, D-N.Y. and Sens. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., and Trent Lott, R-Miss., urged FCC Chairman Martin this week to ensure broadcasters are fulfilling their public service obligations before relaxing media ownership rules.
Lawmakers pointed to the pending proceeding on broadcast localism that was opened in 2004, and said in separate letters that the localism issue needs to be resolved first.
Martin has said he wanted to proceed on eliminating the ban on one company owning both a broadcast station and a newspaper in one market, once a fifth commissioner was in place. He has postponed the agency's next monthly meeting by a week, now that Republican Robert McDowell is on board.

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He joins an arena already occupied by Sens. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D. and Trent Lott, R-Miss. as well as Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., in opposing FCC Chairman Kevin Martin’s hopes to relax key rules and wrap up the ownership proceeding by the end of the year.