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Powell: Congressional Rhetoric ‘Shrill’

Powell: Congressional Rhetoric 'Shrill'

In an op ed piece written for the New York Times, FCC Chairman Michael Powell says debate in Congress over the new media ownership rules passed by the commission has gotten off-track. The rhetoric of some lawmakers has become ‘shrill’ says Powell, and focused on content, an area he doesn’t feel the agency should regulate.
“Some say the problem is media concentration, and point out that only five (TV networks) control 80% of what we see and hear,” Powell states. “In reality, those five companies own only 25% of more than 300 broadcast, satellite and cable channels, but because of their popularity, 80% of the viewing audience chooses to watch them. Popularity is not synonymous with monopoly. A competitive media marketplace must be our fundamental goal, but do we really want government to regulate what is popular?”
At the same time, the current debate has ignored a disturbing trend the new rules will do much to abate: the movement of high-quality content from free over-the-air broadcast television to cable and satellite.
He encourages a national debate on media ownership, but stresses it should be kept “in focus.”