WASHINGTON–A powerful group of Senators turned up the pressure on the FCC Commissioner Michael Powell yesterday, asking him to allow more time for Congress and the general public to review all changes to media ownership rules before they are enacted as planned in early June.
Sens. Ernest Hollings (D-S.C.), the ranking member of the powerful Commerce Committee, Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), and Trent Lott (R-Miss.) were among 15 Senators who signed the letter sent to Powell Thursday. The group complained that the FCC “has not put forth any specific changes” for the rulemaking and urged the agency to provide “full disclosure” before any decisions are final.
In a separate development, the U.S. Small Business Administration also slapped the FCC’s hands yesterday, for failing to consider how the rule changes would impact small businesses.
Reacting to a request by Hollings, Commerce Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) agreed to hold an additional hearing on the media consolidation after Congress returns from its Easter recess in early May.
Those urging the FCC to wrap up its work on media ownership to make the June 2 deadline were not deterred by the Senators’ move. Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), an influential member of the House Energy and Commerce panel, sent his own letter to Powell Thursday, commending his efforts to meet the deadline. In a direct shot at the Senators’ request, Upton said the FCC has already gone to “extraordinary lengths” to open the process to review and deemed any delay in completing the process “inexcusable.”