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Media Ownership Debated in Richmond

Media Ownership Debated in Richmond

At what is the only FCC-sanctioned public hearing away from Washington on media ownership rules, those who support relaxation and those who oppose more relaxation of media ownership limits squared off at a hearing in Richmond, Va.
Commissioner Michael Copps, who has pushed for more hearings across the country, said that all expertise on these issues does not reside within the Washington beltway. Repeating some of the same arguments expressed before a similar hearing before the Senate Commerce recently, Copps said, “Many believe that loosening of ownership caps and limits that took place (in the ’96 Telecom Act) created real problems in radio.”
Chairman Michael Powell said the number of people filing comments with the commission on the issue is “staggering” – at 15,000 from citizens alone. “This record combined with the forum we are holding today, will create one of the most exhaustive records in recent FCC history.”
Powell stated: “courts have become far more skeptical of FCC rationales for imposing limits on broadcast ownership. Five times in the past two years we have defended our ownership rules in court. Five times we have lost. The common theme of the courts’ criticism is that we have failed to justify our rules in light of today’s media environment. What the courts have told us, in no uncertain terms, is that the biennial standard is a rigorous test. Either we produce evidence that a rule is still necessary, or we must eliminate it.”